Jordan Closs-Lopez got into the zone in the third quarter Friday night, as the Canyon Del Oro Dorados (6-3) pulled away at Pusch Ridge, 60-42.
The Lions (4-5) battled to a 10-10 tie after one quarter, and it was 23-18 in favor of the Dorados at the half.
But it was in the third quarter when Closs-Lopez got into the zone and couldn't miss. The junior opened the third with two quick layups, then got fouled on another layup attempt, before sinking both free throws and giving CDO a 30-23 lead.
For the quarter, Closs-Lopez scored 13 points on 4-4 shooting from the floor and 4-4 from the free throw line. He finished the game with 16 points to lead CDO, as he made five of his 10 field goal attempts and was 5-5 from the free-throw line.
"Jordan finally showed up," said CDO's first-year coach Kelan Williams. "I've seen it in practice. This is the Jordan we've been waiting to see."
The Lions stayed with the Dorados until the fourth quarter, as they were led by a weapon of their own, junior Zachary Alexander.
Alexander scored 18 points on 8-14 shooting from the floor.
"We need to cut down on our turnovers and get our assist-to-turnover ratio more favorable," Alexander said.
The Lions had a hard time keeping their offensive momentum, committing 19 turnovers in the game.
Pusch Ridge opened the game with a 10-3 run in front of the home crowd, but that was before the Dorados offense came to life.
The Dorados ended the first quarter on a roll, and continued it into the second with a 13-0 run to take a 16-10 lead in the second, which they never gave back.
"We came out dead in the beginning," Williams said.
Closs-Lopez had help from Nico Hughes who scored 12 points, and Jasper Schultz came off the bench to score 13 points, thanks to 9-10 shooting at the foul line.
"Offense is easy for us," Closs-Lopez said. "I felt like I was in a groove."
Ty Ochse did a lot of the dirty work with 13 rebounds to go along with nine points. J. J. Metz had six points and eight rebounds.
"We usually have good balance on offense," Williams said.
Pusch Ridge hung around in the third quarter, because of Michael Houser, who scored eight of his 12 points in the quarter, and nailed a couple of treys in the third.
When the Lions closed the gap in the third, Closs-Lopez struck with a trey to give CDO a 43-33 lead. Connor Reilly's three-pointer for Pusch Ridge closed the gap to 36-43 after three.
The Dorados made six of their first seven shots in the third, while the Lions made seven of their 12 shots from the floor.
But in the fourth quarter, CDO got separation, as they outscored the home team, 17-6.
The Dorados free throw shooting was a key, as they made 25-32, and shot 78 percent from the line on the night.
It became clear that the Dorados were taking charge when Hughes fed Metz with a no-look pass to key a 6-0 run that made it 49-36 early in the fourth.
"We have our eye on the prize," said Closs-Lopez referring to the state title.
But to get there, the Dorados will need to be more consistent, and the emphasis will have to be on defense.
"We average about 35 rebounds a game," Williams said. "But I don't think we reached that tonight."
"The trait of my teams has always been defense," said the first-year coach. "When we get a chance to do it right, we have a good chance of shutting teams down."
For the Lions, it's back to the drawing board, but at 4-5, they seem to be ahead of last year's pace. It's their second year of playing in Division II, so they're less likely to be intimidated.
"We need to play tough every night," Alexander said. "A big part of rebounding is if we can box out, we can get more rebounds."