Ironwood Ridge loses in final seconds - Tucson Local Media: Sports

Ironwood Ridge loses in final seconds

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Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 11:10 am

At Ironwood Ridge, a buzzer beater in overtime by senior Kevionte Alexander gave visiting Rincon a 51-49 victory over the Nighthawks last Friday.

Trevor Cotton's driving layup with seconds left in regulation tied it for the Nighthawks at 41, which forced the overtime.

Ironically, Alexander had missed a last-second desperation shot at the buzzer at the end of regulation, which would've won it for Rincon. He led all scorers with 18.

In a a game with several momentum changes the Nighthawks trailed by five early in the fourth, before Cotton brought them back.

Cotton scored nine of his team-leading 15 points in the fourth quarter.

The Nighthawks, as always, played strong defense.

Even on a young, inexperienced team, the Nighthawks built an 8-0 lead after one. Rincon missed their first nine shots from the floor.

"We did as good a job defensively as we can (in the first)," said Nighthawks coach Brian Peabody.

Peabody's recent teams have always played good defense, and continue to do so in 2012-2013, despite a roster where none of the players were in last season's regular rotation.

"It's a completely new group," Peabody said.

The inexperience showed itself in the first half, as the Nighthawks committed 10 turnovers in the first half alone.

A 3-pointer by Ironwood's Michael Volk and a basket by Mitch Lightfoot on the offensive boards gave the home team a 13-3 lead.

But just when it looked like the Nighthawks would have their way with Rincon, the Rangers offense came to life.

The Rangers went on a 7-1 run, and a trey by Michael Bernal cut it to 18-14 with 1:06 left. Then, Alexander fed Jesus Nunez for a basket as time ran out to make it Ironwood Ridge 18, Rincon 16 at the half.

The Nighthawks offense fell off as the team scored only eight in the third, and they shot a dismal 38 percent from the floor.

"This was NOT an off-shooting night," said Peabody. "We have trouble putting the ball in the basket."

Lightfoot, a freshman center scored 12 points for Ironwood, and added eight rebounds and five blocked shots. Jake Jensen added 10 points and 11 rebounds.

On the defensive end, led by the efforts of the 6'7" Lightfoot, the Nighthawks kept themselves in the game. They held Rincon to 3-11 shooting from the floor.

Rincon's Asha Esprit was a constant nemesis down low, and drew a lot of fouls which helped him to an 8-10 night at the line, and scored 12 points. The 6'6" senior also had eight rebounds.

Peabody praised his team's defense for the job they did on Esprit. He went on to miss his last seven shots from the floor, under heavy defensive pressure.

Rincon opened the third with a 9-2 run for a 25-20 lead. That's when Esprit and Jesus Nunez started taking charge down low. Nunez made four of his five shots in the second half and finished with 14 points on 7-11 shooting. Esprit had seven points in the third.

But the Nighthawks started putting the clamps on defensively again, and a basket by Jensen with five seconds left in the period cut the Nighthawks deficit to 29-26 after three.

Amazingly, the Nighthawks took only nine free throw shots all night, and only two in the first three quarters.

"We got demolished at the line," Peabody said.

Cotton's offense kept the Nighthawks in the game in the fourth, and helped to set the stage for overtime.

Cotton opened with a layup for a basket and foul, which led to a 3-point play that tied the game at 29.

Peabody pointed out that he liked Cotton as an offensive threat, he has a tendency to be inconsistent. Cotton missed 10 out of his first 11 shots from the floor. The team's three leading scorers shot a combined 17-51, 33 percent from the floor.

Lightfoot and Cotton each made baskets to give Ironwood a 39-38 lead with 2:26 left. A trey by Alexander gave the Rangers the lead back, 41-39, with only 33 seconds left.

After some timeouts, the Nighthawks inbounded, and Cotton made his driving layup, which sent the game into overtime.

In the overtime, the team's kept it close. Alexander made another trey for a 48-46 Rincon lead. The Nighthawks started getting free throws. Volk was fouled and made both his free throws to tie the score at 49-49 with 19 seconds left.

The Nighthawks called time out, but Alexander held the ball for the duration, before burying his dramatic game-winning shot.

"Unfortunately," Peabody said. "Offense is our achilles heel."

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