Nighthawks beat Badgers - The Explorer: Sports

Nighthawks beat Badgers

Team has best three guards ever, says coach

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Posted: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 8:22 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

At Ironwood Ridge High School Thursday night, the Nighthawks (15-5, 4-1 in league) had the challenge of stopping the Tucson High School Badgers, one of the top 50 basketball teams in Arizona.

To do that, they had to focus on slowing down senior guard Shakir Smith, the leading scorer in Southern Arizona at 23 points per game.

The Nighthawks proved to be equal to the task, as they defeated the Badgers 61-56.

Smith was still the game’s leading scorer with 18 points, but he had to work for it, hoisting shots and making just 28 percent from the floor.

At one point, Smith even missed five shots in a row.

What was the secret to slowing down the phenom?

“Tyler Williams,” said Nighthawks coach Brian Peabody. Williams, a sophomore, was asked to cover Smith most of the night.

“He brings a ton of energy,” Peabody said. “Williams is almost as quick as (Lawrence) Hampton,” who was last year’s point guard.

Peabody says he has the best three guards he’s ever had in Williams, Tyler D’Amore and Mitch Fischer. All three were also key members of the football team, which advanced to the state semi-final game.

“He’s really great,” D’Amore said. “Tyler Williams played great defense on (Smith). Coach Peabody had a great plan.”

D’Amore led the Nighthawks with 15 points and made four three-pointers. As a team, the Nighthawks buried nine from long range.

The score volleyed back-and-forth until Ironwood went on a 12-0 run to end the half. D’Amore scored eight of the points, including a buzzer-beating shot to end the half with a 32-20 lead for the Nighthawks. Defensively, they held Tucson to six in the period.

“Knocking down those shots was big,” D’Amore said.

D’Amore opened the third with another basket from behind the arc for a 35-20 lead. Unfortunately, instead of rolling to an easy win, the offense fell into a bit of a slump and scored only six more points the rest of the period.

The Badgers went on a 13-3 run, including a buzzer-beating shot to end the half with a 32-20 lead for the Nighthawks. Defensively, they held Tucson to six in the period.

“Knocking down those shots was big,” D’Amore said.

D’Amore opened the third with another basket from behind the arc for a 35-20 lead. Unfortunately, instead of rolling to an easy win, the offense fell into a bit of a slump and scored only six more points the rest of the period.

The Badgers went on a 13-3 run, led by Smith who got hot, just as the Nighthawks went cold.

“A lot of times we’re our own worst enemy,” Peabody said. “We can’t shoot a lot from the perimeter.”

Smith buried a trey late in the third to tie it at 41-41 going into the fourth. He finished with eight in the period.

Free-throw shooting made the difference in the fourth and down the stretch, as the Nighthawks scored 20 points and made 75 percent of their free throws in the game. That’s a far cry from last year’s squad, which frequently made less than half of their tries from the charity stripe.

One of the challenges for the Nighthawks this year was how they would react to the loss of three key seniors. Jan Maehlen was a seven-foot tall center who anchored a great defense, while forward Matt Walter was the 5A-II player-of-the-year. The two combined gave the team a strong post presence. Lawrence Hampton missed many games but, when available, was the team’s quarterback and quickest player.

Coaching a team with only two seniors could have presented Peabody with a daunting task. D’Amore, the 5A-II player-of-the-year in football, is the only senior starter. Brendan Sharkey, the team’s tallest player at 6 feet, 5 inches, is a key reserve.

“We don’t have a post presence,” Peabody acknowledged. “Our guards are tough. We apply a lot of defensive pressure with our guards.”

While the team has lost its quickest player from last year’s rotation, D’Amore says the team is actually a lot faster this year. Williams didn’t play much last year.

The Nighthawks’ lack of depth was revealed last season when the team blew a 10-point lead in its fourth-quarter playoff loss to Chaparral. Peabody mostly used a five or six-man rotation; the team looked tired at the end, and on into overtime.

“We’re probably deeper,” Peabody said.

In addition to D’Amore’s production last Thursday, Alec Sonderman scored 12 points, and Fischer and Williams had eight each. Travis Jefferies and Andrew Dohm, two newcomers, each added eight as well.

“Our football players are getting into (basketball) shape,” D’Amore said. “We’re ready to contend for a state championship.”

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HS Schedule

Tuesday, September 16

Boys Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Buena, Cienega at Marana

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge, Catalina at Amphi (Silverbell GC)

Catalina Foothills, Pueblo, Sahuarita at Sahuaro

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Mountain View at Rio Rico

Ironwood Ridge at Glendale Ironwood

Swimming (@4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge, Sahuarita at Desert Christian

Wednesday, September 17

Girls Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Rincon at CDO

Ironwood Ridge, Desert View at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Cross Country (@4:30)

Salpointe at Catalina Foothills

Palo Verde, Nogales at Marana

Rincon, St. Gregory at CDO

Sahuarita, Pueblo, Pusch Ridge at Desert View

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Empire at Marana (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

CDO at Queen Creek

Cienega at Mountain View

Sahuaro at Catalina Foothills

Walden Grove at Pusch Ridge

Thursday, September 18

Girls Golf

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Boys Golf

Sahuaro and Salpointe at Ironwood Ridge

CDO, Rincon, Sunnyside at Tucson High

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at Sahuarita

Ironwood Ridge at Sahuaro (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

Catalina Foothills at Rincon

Pusch Ridge at San Manuel

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Marana vs. Tucson at Quincy Douglas Pool

Cienega at Marana

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Amphi

Catalina Foothills at Sahuaro

Freshman Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Flowing Wells at Marana (4 p.m.)

Desert View at Mountain View

Cienega at CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

JV Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Amphi at Marana

Santa Cruz Valley at Pusch Ridge

Mountain View at Desert View

CDO at Cienega

Buena at Ironwood Ridge

Sahuarita at Catalina Foothills

Friday, September 19

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge at Mt. Carmel Invitational (San Diego, CA)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

Football (@7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Santa Cruz Valley

Catalina at Marana

Desert Vista at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Cienega at CDO

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

Saturday, September 20

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Marana at Old Pueblo Invite(Lincoln Park)

Mountain View at San Diego

Catalina Foothills, CDO at Ojo Rojo (Chandler, AZ)

Swimming

Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

 

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