The Pusch Ridge Christian Academy Lions boys basketball team pushed their win streak to eight games with a combination of brute force and deft touch.
The Lions (19-2, 5-0), weathered a 32-minute fight from visiting Safford Tuesday night, beating the Bulldogs, 65-54. Pusch Ridge did so thanks to the exploits of senior center Lucas Elliott, who led the Lions in scoring with 19 points while pulling down 14 rebounds.
Elliott was joined in double figures by fellow senior Jared Clark, who scored 16 points on 6 of 17 shooting, and junior Mike McClone, who had 10 points.
Coach Erik Michaud praised his players for being able to roll over a talented Bulldogs squad, despite committing 15 turnovers.
“It’s just a good look knowing that we didn't play our best basketball tonight, but we still got a good win,” Michaud said. “And just knowing that we all know together that we can play better, but coming off the win that we did, it's impressive and just kind of shows the hard work that they're putting in starting to pay off.”
The two sides engaged in a full-court fight, with each team employing a full-court press that gummed up passing lanes and stymied offensive flow.
The Lions led for much of the second half, taking a 47-38 advantage into the game’s final quarter.
Elliott paced the offense in the final stanza, with six points, while Brandon Kleinssaser added four points and McCone added three more.
Clark said the team’s ability to knock off a talented Safford team speaks to their blend of on-court camaraderie and confidence.
“It’s a game that we are just coming out and trying to get a win against another section team. It's big,” Clark said. “We're still top of the section. Trying to keep that undefeated, so it's just another big game for us to keep this win streak going.”
The boys squad will next face Catalina at home Friday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m.
The Lions’ girls basketball team lost to the Bulldogs on the road Tuesday, 62-56, falling to 14-7 for the season. The Lions lost despite a meteoric performance by junior guard Angel Addleman, who scored 30 points on 12-of-25 shooting, while pulling down 10 rebounds as well.
Senior Cherish Gotcher was the only other Lion to finish in double figures, scoring 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting, while pulling down four rebounds in the loss.
The girls squad also faces Catalina on Friday, Jan. 25 at home, their game starts at 6:30 p.m.
To catch up on the rest of the week in high school basketball across north Tucson, check in at tucsonlocalmedia.com and pick up the Jan. 30 edition of The Explorer or Marana News.