The Red Mountain boys basketball team came off a difficult loss earlier in the week and the Mountain Lions weren’t exactly happy about the outcome of the first go-around with Mesa.
So, having the region-leading Jackrabbits come in for a visit on Friday may not have been ideal timing, but the Mountain Lions set the tone and never trailed after the early moments of the game for a 70-60 win over Mesa in East Valley Region action.
“These guys wanted a payback game,” Red Mountain coach Chris Lemon said. “The loss to Mountain View (in overtime on Tuesday) was a heartbreaker. They bounced back like I knew they would. The thing about them is they always answer the bell.”
The Mountain Lions (14-9, 5-2) maintained a 10- to five-point lead throughout most of the contest as Timmy Allen and Andre Harris proved difficult to contain while Mesa struggled from the field, shooting six of 23 in the first half.
Everyone in the gym knew the Jackrabbits (18-5, 7-1) were going to make a push, as they always do under Shane Burcar.
It came with Allen on the bench with four fouls as Mesa went on an 8-0 run to close the third quarter, punctuated by a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Xavier Fuller (18 points), to trail 40-35.
The fourth started with a three-point play by Allen (21 points), and a tough basketball by Harris (27 points) to quickly push the lead back to 10 only to see Mesa get back 45-41 on two straight baskets by Mark Hatch (17 points).
With Allen fouled out, Red Mountain went on a 10-2 run led by Quincy Reece as he scored six of his 13 points in the stretch for a 55-43 lead.
From there it was basically a foul fest as Red Mountain made 20 of 28 free throws in the fourth quarter, aided by two Mesa technical fouls, and 26 of 37 in the game.
“I took it as a challenge and it got me fired up,” Reece said about stepping up after Allen fouled out. “This was real important and we have that fire now.”
The Jackrabbits struggled early as they forced Hatch to go to his right and he never found his rhythm, but Mesa still holds a two-game lead with two region games left to play.
“It’s not the end of the world,” Mesa coach Shane Burcar said. “You are going to lose games, and this is a tough place to play. We come out and win next week and everything is good again.”
The Lions have upstart Skyline next with another shot at Mountain View next week.
“They wanted this one tonight and they played like it,” Lemon said. “We have Senior Night game coming up and that’s always a trap-type game, so we have to get these guys focused.”
Reece doesn’t feel like that will be a problem.
“It was a really good win for us, mentally too,” he said. “We have to work hard in practice, and just keep pounding teams and bringing this kind of energy.”
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Red Mountain 70, Mesa 60
Mesa 6 11 18 25—60
RM 15 12 13 30-70
Mesa (18-5, 7-1) – Adams 1-0-2, Hatch 7-1-17, Perry 3-0-9, Rashid 2-4-9, Fuller 6-3-18, Hobbs 1-2-5. TOTALS: 20-10 60.
Red Mountain (14-9, 5-2) – Heywood 0-2-2, Murphy 0-1-1, Allen 10-2-21, Ballantyne 0-4-4 Padbury 0-1-1, Reece 4-5-13, Appel 0-1-1, Harris 8-11 27. TOTALS: 22-26 70.