In a battle of two upcoming programs, the Prescott Badgers made the trip down the hill to take on the Mountain Ridge Lions to kickoff the Inaugural GC3 Hoops Grand Canyon Classic. Both programs have participated in the GC3 Hoops Summer Invitational with Mountain Ridge winning in 2022 and Prescott winning the Road to Inner Peace Bracket in 2023.

The Badgers won the tip to start the game. Both teams were battling back and forth until the Badgers struck first mid-way through the first quarter. Prescott’s Bella Abt led a 6-0 run making steals, and attacking the basket. The Badgers aggression ended up costing them to give up a foul putting the Mountain Lions’ Kaliyahna Baldwin to the charity stripe where her free throws cut the lead in half (6-3). The Lions would tie the game with a three from 

Tori Lapadura which would propel them to a 11-9 lead after the first.

The Badgers began the 2nd quarter with possession however it was the Mountain Lions who struck first with a three from Gloria Hines. Badgers Coach Jami Johnson keeps motivating her team and it seems to be working as they are not letting up. Prescott continues to put pressure defensively and starts to chip away at Mountain Ridge’s lead (17-14). After a back and forth first half, the Mountain Lions lead the Badgers 19 to 17.

The Badgers would begin the half with possession but the Lions would hit two huge three pointers both by guard Baldwin. Mountain Lions Coach Jaime Carreon would draw up a 9-0 run by using a scoring by committee approach. The run would wake up the Badgers as they battled back with baskets from Ruby Jensen and Abt. It seems like the Lions were trying to adjust to the full court pressure applied by the Badgers. The Badgers would take their first lead of the game at the 1:30 mark 39-37. Prescott’s full court pressure paid off as they were able to force turnovers into transition offense opportunities. They would lead 45 to 41 after the third. 

The Mountain Lions would begin the fourth quarter with possession and they would be ready for the pressure. Led by Point Guard Maddie Green, she would ignite a 6-0 run on her own to help build her team’s lead to four. Badgers Coach Johnson burned a timeout to regroup her team and Mountain Lions Coach Carreon drew up a full court press of his own. The press caught the Badgers off guard but they seemed to settle in to handle the full court press. 

In an exciting stretch, both teams traded baskets. In discussing the game with my staff, it was a unanimous decision that the game would come down to the wire. It was impressive to see both teams leave it on the floor. With a chance to tie or win the game (30 seconds left), Mountain Ridge’s Green would make a steal and sink a finger roll to put the game out of reach. The Lions would beat an upstart Badgers squad 61-57.

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