Big guys energize Sierra Vista’s rally

After watching his team get outrebounded by a smaller Cimarron-Memorial club, Sierra Vista coach Kent Johnson challenged his big men at halftime to go to the glass.

Brian Zimmerman and Amir Garrett responded, combining for 25 points and 14 rebounds in the second half, as the Mountain Lions rallied to beat the Spartans 71-61 in the Sierra Vista Invitational championship game Tuesday.

"We really got outhustled in the first half, just pure and simple," Johnson said. "(Cimarron) plays hard, they’re active, and we let them just seal us off the glass."

Cimarron’s tallest regular is 6-foot-2-inch Dale Puckett, but that didn’t stop the Spartans from holding a 15-11 rebound advantage at halftime as they grabbed a 30-25 lead.

But Garrett, listed at 6-4, and Zimmerman, who Johnson said is "just a shade under 6-7" went to work on the glass to help the Mountain Lions to a 20-12 rebound advantage the rest of the way.

They used that edge to spark a 13-2 run to start the third quarter, allowing Sierra Vista to take control.

"We told both of them that they were just getting thrown around," Johnson said. " ‘Look, you’re the two tallest, most athletic guys on the floor. If anybody can rebound, it’s got to be you. Go get them.’ And they did."

Garrett finished with 21 points and eight rebounds, and Zimmerman had 10 and 11.

Quinten Chow scored 20 points, and Ray Tapusoa supplied 13 points and seven assists for Sierra Vista (8-2), which won the tournament for the first time.

"Being a first-year head coach, we want to change the entire reputation of Sierra Vista," Johnson said. "We want people to be thinking, ‘Oh, jeez, we’ve got to play Vista tonight.’ We want to put a little fear in them thinking it’s going to be tough. We think we’ve got the tools to do that."

Kevin Olekaibe did his best to keep Cimarron in the game, finishing with 37 points. Brayden Quackenbush added 15 for the Spartans (6-6).

Johnson said he thinks the victory will help his team’s confidence when it returns to Southwest League play after the holiday break.

"Our personal goal this year is a league title," Johnson said. "We’ve never, ever beaten Bishop Gorman in a straight-up game, but we think we can. And they’re starting to believe it. So that’s why it’s so big for us."

Contact Prep Sports Editor Damon Seiters at dseiters@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4587.

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