Lion boys ready to measure up - The Explorer: Sports

Lion boys ready to measure up

Pusch Ridge sees holiday tournament as an indicator

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Posted: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 8:07 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Pusch Ridge boys basketball coach Dennis O’Reilly believes the annual Northwest Desert Classic, to be held Dec. 27-30 at both Pusch Ridge and Mountain View high schools, should be a great indicator of where the Lions basketball program stands.

Pusch Ridge currently sits at 8-1. If a 66-48 win at Empire last Friday is any indication, all systems are go.

Senior shooting guard Jeremy Courtney led all scorers with 20 points. He was 9-10 at the foul line, and drained three three-pointers.

“We played really well as a team,” Courtney said. “We’re coming together more as a team.”

Last year’s Lions squad went 21-8, and won its first playoff game over Camp Verde.

In their second year under O’Reilly, the Lions are much further along. In 2009, O’Reilly had to wait for the football playoffs to end in order to indoctrinate football players. This year, the gridders were eliminated earlier. The veteran squad, with seven seniors, has been able to get its program, system and cohesiveness into place.

“You can see it,” Courtney said. “It’s an experienced team.”

Senior point guard Daniel McLeod is a major key for the Lions. He scored nine points at Empire. More important was his decision-making, enabling the Lions to shoot 43 percent from the floor, and score 66 points.

“McLeod is a good leader,” O’Reilly said. “He understands the game well. He has a high basketball IQ. He’s a great decision-maker.”

“Daniel McLeod’s a great point guard,” teammate Courtney said.

At one point in the first half, McLeod shot an air ball on a free-throw attempt, then smiled. It was if he were acknowledging the moment was an aberration, a mere blip on the radar. He wasn’t going to sweat it.

The Lions opened the game with an 8-2 run, six by Courtney, who finished with nine in the first quarter, as the Lions built an 11-7 lead.

Two quick baskets by post Colin Chafin led to a 7-0 run by Pusch Ridge for an 18-7 lead.

Then, the Ravens embarked on an 8-0 run. But a basket by McLeod, and later a trey by Courtney with about a minute left, gave the Lions a 29-22 lead at half.

While the guards provided offense, O’Reilly pointed out, they play good on-the-ball defense, and are quick on their feet. Not to be forgotten, big men John Jackson and Chafin scored 10 and 8 points, respectively. Forward Caleb Spegman had another 10, including the final six points for Pusch Ridge in the third, for a commanding 44-29 lead. Jake Gifford also had seven points from his forward position.

“We were getting the ball inside,” O’Reilly said. “John Jackson’s strong inside and takes up a lot of space.

“Our big men give us long arms and length. They get in the passing lanes.”

O’Reilly is hoping his team can make the playoffs again.

“They want to learn. They’re picking up on the system. I’m looking forward to the challenging games

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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)


Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions


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