Semifinals bound!

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Grant Ashby grabs a rebound. Ashby finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds as Pima dispatched Phoenix Country Day 57-50 to move onto the semifinals.

Pima to face No. 2 Rancho Solano Prep

By Jon Johnson

PIMA – The No. 3 Pima Roughriders (8-0 region, 16-2 overall) survived a furious comeback attempt by the No. 6 Phoenix Country Day Eagles (4-1 region, 13-3 overall) on Saturday to win 57-50 and move onto the 2A State Boys Basketball semifinals.

“It was a great win,” Tim Salyer said. “I love playing with these guys and I can’t wait for the next one.” 

Pima will travel to Scottsdale Christian on Friday, March 19, to face No. 2 Rancho Solano Prep, starting at 7:30 p.m.

When the game is on the line, playmakers make plays and that’s what Pima’s seniors did to hold off Phoenix Country Day. With about 1:18 to play and the Roughriders clinging to a 1-point lead, 51-50, 2A East Region Player of the Year Tim Salyer hit one of two free throws. Then Jacob Brimhall (10 points, 6 rebounds) went vertical defensively against the tallest guy on the court, Tanti Felli, and snagged the rebound. The outlet went to Trett Wiltbank, who quickly reversed it across court to Salyer, who then took it coast-to-coast through three defenders on his way to a layup and a 4-point lead, 54-50. 

After another defensive stand, Salyer was fouled and he hit two free throws to put Pima up 6, 56-50. The Eagles couldn’t find the bucket again, and Brimhall finished off the night with a free throw to end Phoenix County Day’s season and send Pima into the semifinals.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Tim Salyer delivers a pass.

“I realized how close they cut it and we could’ve either folded and let them come back but this team has so much fight,” Salyer said. “So many of our games this year have come within 5 points or less; we just don’t stop fighting.”  

Everything initially started out Pima’s way as the Roughriders staunch defense allowed few opportunities, and the Eagles only scored 4 points in the first quarter, both field goals by Tanti Felli. Conversely, the Roughriders hit for 12 points behind balanced play from its big men, Brimhall, Seth Russell, and Grant Ashby, and an early 3-pointer and a couple of free throws from Salyer.

The second quarter was more of the same as Phoenix Country Day could only manage two field goals from Kiahn Tehranchi (one was a 3-pointer) the entire quarter while Kenton Skiba hit from deep and Ashby continued his balanced scoring to put Pima up 27-9 at the half and the rout appeared to be forthcoming. Ashby would finish with a working man’s double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. 

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Jacob Brimhall drives to the bucket.

Things started to turn the Eagles’ way in the third quarter as they got a lot of foul calls their way and began to claw back at the lead. However, Pima answered with another 3-pointer from Skiba and field goals from Ashby, Wiltbank, and Russell to keep the distance as Pima led comfortably 38-22 at the end of three-quarters of play.

Then, the bottom dropped out as Sam Tepper (13 points) hit three of his four 3-pointers on the night in the final quarter and Will Miraglia (22 points) went off with a plethora of field goals and 6-6 free throws in the final quarter to bring the Eagles up to the brink of the Roughriders. 

However, Kaleb Blair hit a big 3-pointer and Salyer – who finished with a team-high 16 points – helped shut the door with his drive and free throws. 

The ultimate decision was the clamp-down defense, however, that led to the offense for the Roughriders as they had nearly given up a 16-point lead in the final stanza. Looking at their season ending, they pulled up their shorts and dug deep to conserve the win and move onto the semifinals, where they will face No. 2 Rancho Solano Prep.

“You’ve gotta give credit to Grant and Kaleb for D’ing up number 30 (Miraglia),” Salyer said. That dude is a heck of a player and they were just on him all night. That’s the kind of effort we’re gonna need to do this next game against Rancho.”  

To view a photo album from the game click here.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Pima Cheer do their thing.