Buena head coach Tyler Molesworth — who is officially 21-1 since taking the helm in 2020 — isn’t letting the Colts’ No. 1- ranking in 5A resonate in his players’ heads.
Since the AIA doesn’t count regular-season tournaments in its official standings, Molesworth still thinks the Colts have work to do to prove that they deserve to be on top.
“We played in two tournaments where we didn’t win all those games, so I gotta keep those guys focused by saying, ‘Hey we haven’t won every game — in my opinion. We’re still not the best team because we’ve lost a few games — in my opinion,'” Molesworth said. “So we still need to show everybody we’re still the number one team.
“We do that by night in, night out, giving the best effort we can.”
Whether Molesworth believes the hype or not, No. 1-ranked Buena looked the part of a top-ranked team on Thursday night, soundly defeating 5A Southern foe Sunnyside, 86-68.
Buena (12-0, 7-0 5A Southern) held a 41-31 lead at halftime, before the Colts’ team defense, and an offensive barrage from senior guard Jake Smith and senior wing Cooper Jones fueled Buena to a 62-45 lead over Sunnyside after three quarters.
Buena would build the lead to 86-57 with 2:12 left in the fourth quarter before Molesworth went to the bench to the reserves to finish the game.
Smith and Jones finished with a combined 53 points.
In a sign of things to come, Buena opened the game on a 13-3 run fueled by two field goals inside the arc from Smith, and two 3-pointers from Jones.
Sunnyside’s senior guard Jesus Martinez kept the Blue Devils in the game by scoring their following eight points on a field goal and two consecutive 3-pointers. Still, Smith answered with three field goals to give Buena a 19-11 advantage with 1:09 remaining in the first quarter.
“I knew it was going to be a tough game, so I just tried to keep calm,” Smith said. “I tried to keep the game under control when the ball was in my hand, and it worked out for us in the end.”
The closest Sunnyside (9-6, 4-2 5A Southern) would get the remainder of the game was at 27-21 with 4:20 left in the second quarter and 35-28 with 1:40 left before halftime.
Molesworth is building a winning culture at Buena, and it isn’t being built on a foundation of entitlement.
“It’s a culture of hard work and effort,” he said. “You don’t just assume you can go out and take what’s yours, and you gotta put the effort in practice in when nobody’s watching in order to perform on the floor. Hopefully, the kids take that to heart and use that for the rest of their lives.
“It’s the things in private that are gonna make the things in public work.”
Smith finished with 29 points and Jones had 24 points.
Martinez had 19 points.
Sunnyside’s senior point guard Marcos Fuentes finished with 12 points.
Buena plays next against Ironwood Ridge at home Friday at 7 p.m. Sunnyside will host Desert View on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. Murphy is a journalist product manager with the Green Valley News & the Sahuarita Sun. He is currently attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU where he is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.