Freshman Ironwood Ridge guard Amy Senkerik drives up court against Sunnyside senior forward Gisselle Gonzales Thursday night.

It was a nail-biter of a game last night at Ironwood Ridge High School as the Nighthawks girls basketball team traded shots with the Sunnyside Blue Devils as the clock ticked down the final seconds of the fourth quarter. 

The Nighthawks narrowly edged out Blue Devils, 53-50.  

“The biggest thing about tonight’s game is that we made shots,” said Ironwood Ridge head coach Daron Cross. “We haven’t scored more than 44 points in a game in weeks.”

The Blue Devils took the lead early in the game, but the Nighthawks kept chipping away through the first quarter. Tides turned in favor for Ironwood Ridge after freshman point guard Amy Senkerik and senior power forward Makayla Holthuas hit back-to-back three pointers in the last minute of the quarter, putting the Nighthawks in the lead, 18-15, for the first time in the game. 

“We had really good energy and I think it showed in the first quarter,” Houlthaus said. “We came out as a team and were really working together.”

Ironwood Ridge and Sunnyside traded buckets throughout the second quarter, with the Nighthawks entering half-time two points ahead of the Blue Devils. 

The Sunnyside defense held the Nightahwks to only three points through the third quarter while taking the lead, 33-38. 

“[Sunnyside] crushed boards hard on us late (in the game) and we didn’t get a couple defensive boards like we should have,” Coach Darron Cross said. “We gave them too many opportunities.” 

Again, back-to-back three pointers by Makayla Houlthaus and senior shooting guard Leah Anderson put the Hawks ahead of the Blue Devils, 39-38, during the fourth quarter. Sunnyside retook the lead in the last five minutes of play, 43-46, and then both teams battled until the score was tied, 50-50, in the final 58 seconds of the game.

“We had a couple pick and roll actions that were able to get some easy buckets,” Cross said. “I think we started to slow down the game a little bit and take what they gave us.” 

Sunnyside was unable to retake the lead after fouling Nighthawk junior guard Keely George and senior Kyla Ruiz in the last seconds of play. Those fouls cost the Blue Devils a chance at over-time and Ironwood Ridge won. 

“We were totally expecting the intensity from them,” Houlthaus said. “They’re always hard working, they’re always scrappy, they’re shooters, and we knew all that. So we're ready.”

The win over Sunnyside followed a 61-44 loss to Buena last Tuesday, Jan. 14. Ironwood Ridge also hosted Gilbert High School over the weekend, losing to the Tigers 59-44. The 4-7 Nighthawks faced Marana after deadline Tuesday evening. 

They travel to Cienega this Thursday, Jan. 23, followed by a home game next Tuesday against Nogales. 

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