AllSportsTucson Phoenix Correspondent Brittany Bowyer
Brittany Bowyer is a freelance journalist who started her career as an intern for a small sports website back in 2015. Since then, she’s obtained her master’s degree in Sports Journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU and is in her fourth year of covering various levels of sports across a broad range of platforms in Arizona. You can follow her on twitter @bbowyer07
It was a tough afternoon for the top-ranked 4A boys hoops squad at Salpointe Catholic, as the top-ranked 6A Sunnyslope Vikings were able to cruise to a 62-43 victory over the Lancers in Phoenix. But even though it wasn’t the results the Lancers were hoping for, coach Jim Reynolds knew the experience they’d be able to take away from the court would be valuable moving forward.
“We really needed to play some better teams, or at least some teams that are going to be final four, elite eight, sweet sixteen, so it was a great game for us to play. We’ll learn a lot from it,” Reynolds said.
The game got off to a bit of a slow start offensively as both teams struggled to get shots to fall, but eventually Sunnyslope was able to find their rhythm after a couple minutes and start rolling. The Vikings defense really picked things up and made it difficult for the Lancers to get open on the court or find good shots, and their size advantage was immediately clear with their ability to box out Salpointe players and snatch up rebounds. At the end of the first, Salpointe was trailing Sunnyslope 13-7.
Sunnyslope’s offense, strongly led by junior Oakland Fort, really caught fire in the second quarter. After Salpointe senior Brady Ramon got the bucket to open up the quarter, Sunnyslope exploded for an 8-0 run and forced Salpointe to call a timeout. The struggle to drive to the bucket continued for the rest of the second, as Sunnyslope was leading 30-16 by halftime.
The Lancers did their best to make adjustments at the half, but Sunnyslope was just too talented. After the Vikings went on a 9-3 run in less than the first three minutes of play to extend the lead even further, coach Reynolds called another timeout in efforts of regrouping the players.
While the Lancers were finally able to see more offensive production in the third, they still allowed Sunnyslope to round out the third quarter leading 52-29. The Vikings didn’t let up, continuing to hammer away for a majority of the fourth quarter before subbing out the top guys to finish out the game and nab the 19-point win.
Reynolds noted that they’re going to have to seize the moment in future games to learn from this game. While he recognizes the strength and size of the Vikings, he also knows the potential of his team and where they can still step things up.
“They’re really good on defense… We had a hard time getting to the rim, scoring inside baskets, and we didn’t get an offensive rebound until the fourth quarter,” Reynolds said.
He noted how when this happens, shooting well from the field is a must, but the shots unfortunately didn’t want to fall for them tonight.
Senior Ramon, who’s leading the team in scoring this season, also shared his takeaways from the game.
“I feel like we’ll be more physical now, because they had two big guys…I feel like we could have competed more and done better. We had a terrible shooting night,” Ramon said.
The now 13-1 Lancers have a tough slate remaining ahead of them to close out the regular season, with four games on deck and zero days in the gym to practice.
“We’re just out to play our best game the next game and this is one we’ll learn from. We’re gonna have to really get some rest tomorrow because you’re not allowed to do anything on Sundays other than rest, so we’re going to have to get ourselves ready to play a tough Catalina Foothills team at Catalina Foothills on Monday,” Reynolds said.
Following the game at Catalina Foothills, currently ranked no. 2 in 5A, the Lancers will return home to host another strong 5A team in the currently fifth-ranked Nogales Apaches on Tuesday. Wednesday, Salpointe will host its final home game of the regular season against Pueblo, currently ranked fourth in 4A, before hitting the road on Thursday to close out the regular season against Sahuaro.
Julian Riesgo with the bucket for Salpointe Catholic pic.twitter.com/yUuvWpPVES
— Brittany Bowyer (@bbowyer07) February 28, 2021