With his team racking up numerous first-half fouls, Sierra Vista boys basketball coach Kent Johnson decided to dial back the defensive pressure.
It nearly cost him.
Coronado opened the second half with an 18-5 run to take a two-point lead before the Mountain Lions reasserted themselves and came away with a 73-59 home win Thursday.
“They made a big run on us because we were being way, way, way too passive,” Johnson said. “The style that we’ve been working on for months is attacking, and we kind of got away from it.”
Coronado led 46-40 after a 3-pointer by Adam Schmitt with 47 seconds left in the third quarter. But Maiscei Grier hit a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left in the period to help start the Sierra Vista rally.
Grier and Viko Noma’aea had combined to score 28 of Sierra Vista’s 34 first-half points. But Coronado went to a triangle-and-two in the second half, limiting the duo’s touches.
A rebound bucket by Michael Louder gave the Cougars a 50-45 lead at the end of the third quarter, but Sierra Vista wasted no time seizing the momentum.
Noma’aea hit a 3-pointer to start the fourth, then assisted on a basket by Justice Odabi that tied the score at 50.
“When we have to have a possession or have to have a bucket, who better to look for?” Johnson said of Noma’aea, who averaged 26.7 points last season. “He’s our heart and soul.”
Noma’aea hit a free throw with 4:26 left to give Sierra Vista a 53-52 lead, and the Mountain Lions didn’t trail again.
Coronado shot itself in the foot down the stretch, turning the ball over 10 times in the fourth quarter. They had 26 turnovers in the game.
Noma’aea had nine of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. Grier was 4-for-5 on 3-pointers and led all scorers with 29 points.
“He’s a guy that if he gets his feet underneath him and his shoulders square, he’s going to knock down a lot of shots,” Johnson said of Grier, who transferred from Arbor View. “People are going to realize real quick that they can’t sit on Viko or else Maiscei will kill them.”
Louder led Coronado with 19 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.