It took overtime to do it, but when the final buzzer sounded, the Pusch Ridge Lions had defeated the Canyon Del Oro Dorados for the fourth time this season in girls’ varsity basketball.
The hosting Dorados pushed the game to overtime after Brittany West hit a three pointer, and, in the next possession, a running jumper to tie the game at 38-38. Pusch Ridge got a good look just as time wound out, but the ball was hard off the back rim and the buzzer sounded as the players wrestled for possession on the ground.
In overtime, the Lions shined when they most needed to, putting up eight points while simultaneously keeping the Dorados scoreless.
The 46-38 victory was a matter of defensive strategy and execution, according to Pusch Ridge Head Coach Lonnie Tvrdy.
“Heading into overtime, the biggest thing was, defensively, not allowing anymore threes,” said Tvrdy. “We were helping too much, or sleeping, and not thinking about recovering. It became about individual responsibility.”
The Lions managed to execute that defense flawlessly, preventing the Dorados from finding open looks from beyond the arc or allowing space to drive to the hoop.
“We really started clicking on D,” said senior point guard Gabrielle Courtney. “We were talking more out there and that helped us on the offensive end as well.”
Offensively, it was Courtney who would set the tone in overtime, hitting a three-pointer seconds in to put the Lions ahead 41-38.
“That felt good. I hadn’t been making everything, so it was nice to sink that shot and take us ahead in overtime,” said Courtney.
“She’s a gamer,” said Tvrdy. “She is not afraid to take big shots. I love having her out there at point guard. She can miss nine in a row, but she is going to expect the game winning shot to go in.”
The shot wasn’t the game-winner, but it was definitely a catalyst for the rest of the Lions.
In the next drive, power forward Moriah Roters pushed through a crowd of Dorados for a lay-in plus the foul.
Roters and Courtney led the Lions offensively, with 15 and 14 points respectively.
Sophomore Olivia Christian added seven points, but her true value came in her willingness to do the dirty work. She nabbed 13 boards and collected two steals – no doubt the thorn in the side of CDO’s offense.
“She can really go up and get them,” said Tvrdy. “When she is rebounding like that, I know that the other parts of her game are going to be good, and she will be mentally focused.”
Christian scored the final two points of the game when she stole an inbound pass in the final seconds and laid in the basket to give the Lions the win.
The Lions are now 11-7, while the Dorados are 12-6.