Men’s basketball beats Sierra Vista 74-41, advancing to regional quarterfinals

The men’s basketball team sent the Sierra Vista Mountain Lions back to their den by defeating them 74-41 in the first round of the regional tournament yesterday.

“My team’s success was a ten out of ten because we played together as a team,” junior Dominic Blair said. “Without us playing as a team, we wouldn’t have [won by 33].”

The momentum was on the the Running Grizzlies’ side in the first half as they scored 50 points in the first 16 minutes. The team dominated the inside game during the first quarter, scoring 16 of their 22 points from inside the three point line.

The second quarter wasn’t too different from the first. The team had one more three pointer than the quarter prior and shot 14 free throws (making 11 of them). Junior Grey Braun beat out Vista’s guard and made a two-point jumper to cap off the half.

“The team was going in strong and we got great team chemistry,” senior Jyaire McGee said. “Everybody was executing on every cylinder, so I give my team props for that. We were getting a lot of fast break steals and we were executing on offense and defense really well.”

The defense was also a factor in the Grizzlies’ first half momentum grab. The team forced 12 turnovers (seven of them being steals) and blocking three shots (two from junior Frank Bartley) as a unit. The steals lead to eight first half points.

“We’ve been studying [Sierra Vista’s] defense for like a week now, ever since we knew we were gonna play them,” McGee said. “We’re glad to see that the presses worked on them and we came out with the victory.”

The second half was a shadow of the first half for the Running Grizzlies. Their point production was cut in half, going from 50 to 24 points between the halves. According to McGee, the team was trying to enjoy their last home game of the season and played their subs more in the second half. Blair added that it was to also conserve the starter’s energy as well.

Despite the change in personnel, the team still held strong on the defensive side. The men forced seven turnovers while allowing the Mountain Lions to match their 24 total through the later 16 minutes. 

“I say we did an excellent [job] knowing that we got every player in the game and we still executed and we still came out with a 30 point win,” McGee said.

The program now looks to the quarterfinals of the regional tournament, where they will go on the road to face Liberty High School on January 14.

“Liberty is going to be a huge game,” Blair said. “They have one really good player, Julian Newman. I think he committed to Gonzaga University. We just need to focus on him. We don’t really have to worry about [anyone else]. If we get Julian out of the way, then we should be able to get the win.”