No. 18 Mountain Ridge came out sizzing in the first quarter Friday night of its 6A basketball play-in game agaiinst No. 15 Red Mountain, connecting on 8 of 11 field goals (73 percent). That level of accuracy didn't continue, but its defense and steady play did and was a death knell for Red Mountain.
Four Mountain Ridge players scored in double figures and a 20-8 lead after one quarter spurred a 62-47 victory over East Valley Region champion and host Red Mountain.
Red Mountain (18-9) did not enter the game healthy. Junior standout Timmy Allen played for the first time since spraining an ankle against Skyline on Jan. 31. Fellow starter Chance Johns also missed two games with a patellar tendon sprain. Neither Johns or Allen started, but they entered for the first time with about three minutes elapsed in the first quarter and Red Mountain in a 10-2 hole.
"Our kids came ready to play," Mountain Ridge coach Eli Lopez said. "We shot the ball well. I know Timmy wasn't 100 percent. That didn't help them any.
"....We played good team ball and controlled the tempo."
Junior guard Tanner Ray made 4 of 4 shots from the field and tallied nine of his 16 points in Mountain Ridge's first-quarter getaway. Saikou Gueye added six points in the quarter and matched team-high scoring honors with Ray. Chris Hermes and Jared Rodriguez stepped up in the second half and finished with 13 points and 11 points, respectively.
Mountain Ridge (`15-12) did not shoot well in the second quarter (1 of 11), but lost just five points of its 12-point lead. The only time Red Mountain threatened to overtake Mountain Ridge was in the first two minutes of the third period, trailing just 25-22. Four minutes later a 10-0 run bumped the lead back to double digits. There was no more serious run for Red Mountain.
"There was no way Timmy wasn't going to play tonight," Red Mountain coach Todd Fazio said. "He wasn't 100 percent. Not close. He and Chance just got in some practice this week. At the end of the day, Mountain Ridge outplayed us. I don't think the injuries mattered."
Allen finished with 10 points as did teammate Jacob Ries. Allen limped off the court with just under six minutes left ito play with Red Mountain down 41-27. He returned in the last two minutes, but the outcome was sealed. Johns scored four points. Sophomore post Andre Harris led Red Mountain with 16 points, 12 in the final period to no avail.