No. 9 Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge defeated No. 24 Yuma Gila Ridge 64-45 Wednesday night in the first round of the Division II state playoffs, sending the Nighthawks to the second round for the first time since 2011. Coincidentally, that year was also the last time the Gila Ridge Hawks qualified for the playoffs.
Separated by over 1,000 students and three miles, Cienega and Empire battled each other to the final moments of a classic battle between an established "big school" and a school creating an identity. Cienega ultimately prevailed 66-63 but Empire also had a victory of sorts - respect.
Derik Hall is known for his quickness on the football field and he displayed a bit of what caused NAU to offer him a scholarship in the final moments against Cienega. Hall poked the ball away as Cienega was about to make their final move with about five seconds remaining. He raced down the court and scored on a lay up with 2.8 seconds left and was fouled.
Sydni Stallworth may only be 5-foot-3 but the Tucson Palo Verde senior is about to be a giant according to stats kept by the Arizona Basketball Coaches Association. Adding the 24 she scored against Sahuarita Walden Grove on Tuesday night at home, the guard is at 1,995 points. Just five away.