The Ironwood Ridge boys’ basketball team was looking to remain undefeated in division play when it visited Mountain View on Jan. 24.
Mountain View co-captain, Abdul Hameed, and the Mountain Lions hoped to defend their home court in hopes of avenging an earlier-season loss to the Nighthawks.
“We were looking to take it to them,” said Hameed. “We wanted to be aggressive from beginning to end, drive hard, and find open baskets.”
The Nighthawks were anticipating the aggressive play of the Mountain Lions, and devised their counterattack.
“We knew this game was a big one for Mountain View,” said Ironwood’s Alec Sonderman. “Going into the game, we wanted to play team defense. We wanted to keep the game moving fast, wear them out, and get some open three-pointers.”
Fittingly, the Nighthawks’ first and last baskets in the first quarter came from behind the three-point line. Andrew Dohm opened up the scoring from behind the arc, giving the Nighthawks an early advantage.
Hameed was quick to respond with back-to-back running jumpers to earn four quick points and decrease the deficit for the Mountain Lions.
With the first quarter winding down, the Nighthawks gained a 20-13 lead after a buzzer-beating three-pointer when quick ball movement left open players.
“We really passed the ball well,” said Ironwood Ridge coach Brian Peabody. “This is a very unselfish team.”
Throughout the rest of the half, the Nighthawks continued to pull down rebounds on both ends of the floor, despite being the smaller team.
“We did a great job rebounding,” said Sonderman. “We had three or four guys going for every board, which limited their second opportunities.”
Mountain View co-captain Zach Carter responded under the basket by pulling in nine boards of his own for the game. His presence in the paint resulted in two blocked shots, and forced Ironwood Ridge into some contested shots going into halftime, with the score at 26-20 in Ironwood’s favor.
“At halftime, we knew we needed to forget about the first half and come out on top in the second,” said Hameed.
“We knew they weren’t going to give up easily,” said Sonderman. “We had to match their play in the second half. We’ve struggled with foul trouble in the past, so it was important for us to keep their score low without fouling.”
Hameed opened the half with a jump shot to cut the Ironwood Ridge lead to four. The Nighthawks responded in a big way, sinking one three-pointer after to outscore the Mountain Lions 32-17 in the second half.
“They really started hitting their shots from deep, and we were giving it to them. That wasn’t part of our game plan,” said Hameed.
Carter found himself in trouble late into the fourth quarter, allowing the Nighthawks to find shots near the hoop.
The combination of the Nighthawks’ offensive weapons and solid defense gave Ironwood Ridge the 58-37 victory.
“This was our best game on both sides of the ball all year,” said Peabody. “From here, we take one game at a time. We don’t talk about any game except the next one on our schedule.”