Considering the outcome in the first encounter with Desert Vista, the Red Mountain boys basketball team knew the task at hand was going to be difficult.
The second go around was much more competitive, but the sixth-seeded Mountain Lions still didn’t have enough Friday to top the third-seeded Thunder as Desert Vista won the 6A Conference quarterfinal 66-53.
“They hung 45 on us last time,” Red Mountain coach Chris Lemon said of the 84-40 loss on Dec. 12. “They weren’t that much better than us and we showed that, but it still wasn’t enough.”
Red Mountain (19-10) was in it early, and led 13-10 after one, until Desert Vista’s 10-0 run – the last basket of the first quarter and first eight points on the second – gave the Thunder the lead for good including 28-25 at the half.
It was close throughout the third quarter, but Desert Vista (25-4) pulled away in the fourth with a 11-2 spurt in the fourth to go up 55-42 on Wesley Harris’ dunk with 3:33 remaining.
“I felt like we did a good job and hung on as long as we could in transition,” Lemon said. “I felt like in the second half we had three straight bad possessions. We got stagnant and that was on me, too. It hurt us, and the way we packed it in (defensively) it was hard to come out and get them.”
The Mountain Lions’ roster is constructed much differently than the Thunder.
Red Mountain relies mostly on two players and hope a third option pops up each game for some support, while the Thunder have one of the state’s deepest rotations.
Timmy Allen and Andre Harris did their part, but it wasn’t enough despite finishing with 21 points each.
Allen scored the first five but then had a couple of air balls and passed off more than usual before finally getting a bucket in the second quarter than was immediately followed by a technical foul.
“I was going through a little bit and I had to tone it down,” Allen said. “I had some things I needed to overcome, and we pulled it together. We were only down three at halftime, but (DV) got away from us and we never got back into it.”
Allen left quite the impression in his two years with Red Mountain after transferring from Desert Ridge and it will be felt for years to come.
“From the last player on the bench to every one of the starters, we got better as the season went on,” said Allen, who is headed to Utah to continue his career. “We didn’t get the win, but we can be proud of our effort.”
The Mountain Lions made big strides in Lemon’s first-year back after leaving his assistant post to be head coach at Mesquite for few years.
Harris will head an experienced group next along with Quincy Reece, Tristan Padbury and others.
“There’s a good core of players coming back,” Lemon said. “If we get this far (state quarterfinals) every year that’s a good place to be, but we feel like we can get deeper once we get the program going.”
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Desert Vista 66, Red Mountain 53
RM 13 12 11 17-53
DV 10 18 11 27-66
Red Mountain (19-10) – Haywood 1-0-2, Allen 10-0-21, Ballentyne 0-2-2, Padbury 1-0-3, Reece 2-0-4, Harris 8-5-21. TOTALS: 21-7-53.
Desert Vista (25-4) – Chambers 3-4-10, Gammage 3-6-12, Anigwe 6-4-17, Wilson 2-0-5, Harris 5-2-13, Rollins 4-0-9. TOTALS: 23-16-66.