Sierra Vista boys limp to finish line, but lead holds up against Palo Verde

Sierra Vista’s boys basketball team walked off the court with a 75-68 win over Palo Verde on Thursday to move to 2-0 in the Northwest League.

But it was tough to celebrate after the way the team played down the stretch. The Mountain Lions turned the ball over 10 times in the fourth quarter, including a stretch of six straight possessions, but held on for the home win.

“We won this game at home and had 25 turnovers,” Sierra Vista coach Keith Ulrich said. “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

The Mountain Lions (13-4) led 57-46 going into the fourth quarter and spread the court effectively early in the period to stretch the lead.

Dominique Marcy benefited from the spread offense, as Nino Flores was able to drive and dish to Sierra Vista’s big man for three buckets.

“We got a lot of good offense out of that spread, being able to dribble penetrate and hit Dom when the help came,” Ulrich said.

Marcy also had two stick-back baskets and scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter. His final basket, off a dish from Flores, put Sierra Vista up 69-53 with 2:37 left.

But that’s when things got interesting.

Palo Verde (6-11, 0-2) took advantage of numerous turnovers down the stretch and got as close as seven when Billy Sparks hit two of three free throws with 1:05 left to cut the lead to 71-64.

“We’ve got to finish the game better,” Ulrich said. “We were up 14 points there, and we had six straight turnovers. We have to be able to protect the ball and be strong with the ball, because we’re going to get pressure when we have leads like that.”

Sierra Vista was strong at the free-throw line, going 8-for-8 in the fourth quarter.

Marcy also had 12 rebounds for the Mountain Lions, who had a 43-35 edge on the glass. He was 8-for-9 from the field. Marcy had just four points in an 87-78 win Tuesday at Durango.

“He was strong for us tonight,” Ulrich said. “He had a couple down games, especially against Durango. He was in foul trouble the whole game and barely played, so it was good to get him to step back up, get him on the floor and get him to finish for us.”

Mikko Balmes led Sierra Vista with 22 points, and Christian Tirol scored 16, including 12 in the third quarter to help the Mountain Lions rally from a 36-32 halftime deficit.

Sparks scored 14 points off the bench to pace Palo Verde, going 3-for-5 on 3-pointers. Braxton Richard scored 11 and Ja Morgan 10 for the Panthers.

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