The Arizona Scorpions, an American Basketball Association semiprofessional team, defeated the Luke Air Force Base varsity basketball team 124-90 in an exhibition game Saturday at the Bryant Fitness Center.
Both coaches said the game was going to be a challenge prior to the game.
Montey Smith, Luke’s coach, said his players were going to have to play hard and strong in order to keep up with the Scorpions, since they are a semi-pro team.
“Playing basketball is secondary to work for my players,” said Ron Tilley, Arizona Scorpions owner/head coach. “We only practice three to four hours a week, and I know that our opponents are going to be more fit than anyone on my team.”
The game started with Luke winning the tip, but was unable to strike first.
The Scorpions started the game and was up 8-0 before Luke scored their first bucket 2:30 into the game.
After Jay Daniels, civilian, hit a three-pointer for Luke with 8:17 left in the first, they went on a 10-4 run to bring the game within five points with the score 17-12. The scorpions answered back immediately by hitting four consecutive three’s to make it 29-15.
The Scorpions ended the first quarter with a commanding 38-17 lead.
Luke started the second quarter by getting the Scorpions to commit five quick fouls putting Luke in the bonus. With Luke being in the bonus, it allowed them to shoot two free-throws every time they would get fouled by the Scorpions.
“I didn’t look into making any changes because we play aggressive,” Tilley said. “We are an aggressively driven defensive team that drives our offense.”
The Scorpions continued to press Luke as though they weren’t in foul trouble.
As the second quarter went on, the Scorpions kept their lead going into half time with a score of 60-38.
Before the third quarter started, Montey Smith told his players they needed to pick up the defense, play out top with them and don’t sag back in order to close the gap between both teams.
Luke was able to cut the lead to 17, but was unable to make the game any closer.
The Thunderbolts went on a 5-1 run to close out the third quarter cutting the lead to 25 with the score 87-62.
The Scorpions opened the fourth quarter with 13-4 run giving them a 100-66 lead.
Over the next four minutes, both teams canceled each other out with scoring before Smith called a timeout with 4 minutes left.
Luke began a late run with two minutes left in the game hitting back-to-back three’s making the score 116-87.
Luke was unable to make a comeback before time ran out, and the game ended with a final score of 124-90.
Tilley said the game helped prepare the Scorpions for the upcoming season.
“The game helped us work out the kinks of playing together and our press,” he said. “Our scoring was also on par with what we did last year.”
Although the Scorpions won, Montey Smith left the game believing it was a success.
“Even though they won big, we accomplished a lot of things mentally,” he said. “This game showed us what we need to work on to get better.”