Mountain View entertained thoughts of upsetting highly-ranked Ironwood Ridge after scoring the first six points of their game last Tuesday.
The Mountain Lions' best defensive efforts came at the beginning and at the end — the Nighthawks were held without a single field goal in the fourth quarter — but in between, Ironwood Ridge posted enough points to win, 58-50.
"At times we really competed," said Mountain Lions coach Mike Parillo. "Then they made us feel uncomfortable. They worked harder than we did for more of the game."
The Nighthawks were faced with the challenge of playing for the first time without 7-footer Jan Maehlen, who was out sick.
"I didn't have the seven-footer out there," said Nighthawk forward Matt Walter. "We had a few guys on the bench step up."
The Nighthawks, playing with no one over 6-4, missed their first six shots, were 2-12 from the floor and 2-6 at the free-throw line in the first quarter. Their defense, an Ironwood cornerstone all season long, kept them in the game. When the apparent last shot of the quarter missed, Walter tipped it in at the buzzer to give the Nighthawks a 7-6 lead after one.
"The tip-in gave us a little boost," Walter said.
Ironwood Ridge rolled in the second, as Sean Collins scored seven consecutive points to spark the Nighthawks to a 27-17 halftime lead.
A late rally by the Mountain Lions made it close in the fourth. During a 12-3 spurt, Scott Volpe's layup cut it to 50-43. They eventually cut it to four points. Then, the Nighthawks spread the floor, and Tyler D'Amore started going to the line with regularity. After he made two free throws, it was 52-44 with 1:33 to go.
D'Amore led the Nighthawks with 15 points on 13-16 from the free throw line. Mitch Fischer scored 11, Walter 10, Collins nine, and Alec Sonderman came off the bench to score six points.
Demetris Morant, the tallest man on the floor at 6-8, kept the Mountain Lions in the hunt most of the way. He led all scorers with 24 points on 10-14 shooting, a few dunks, and 4-4 on free throws.
"I felt I could've played harder defense and had more rebounds," Morant said. "I think we could have beaten them."
"We got some easy baskets with the press," said Nighthawks coach Brian Peabody.
"We played better defense the last time," Mountain View's Parillo said.
Outside of D'Amore, Ironwood Ridge shot 22 percent from the line.
"We're shooting less than 50 percent from the line as a team," Peabody said.
"We're shooting 100 (in practice) tomorrow."