Patriots come back to beat Lions: Neal tallies 19 points to lead MALC to victory
BULLHEAD CITY — The visiting North Valley Christian (Phoenix) Lions jumped out to a 14-point lead during the first 6 minutes, 32 seconds of the game.
But Zach Neal and the Patriots came back to defeat the Lions 61-44 at Mohave Accelerated Learning Center in the Arizona Interscholastic Association 1A West Region boys basketball game on Tuesday night.
MALC trailed 14-0 — as the Lions hit four 3-pointers in a four-minute span midway into the period — and 17-8 after one quarter.
“Zach lit us up energy-wise on offense,” MALC head coach Joey Leslie said.
The Lions took a 24-21 lead into the intermission and led 28-23 1:45 into the third period.
That is when MALC went on 14-3 run, as Neal tallied eight points, and Jacob Leslie and Devin Homer each scored three points during the third-period run to take a 37-31 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Jacob Leslie also blocked three shotsduring a one-minute span late in the fourth quarter, which helped stunt the Lions’ offense.
Lions guard Alex Van Dyke, who tallied 24 points to lead all scorers, and Kai Marusteri helped keep the Lions within 40-33 early in the fourth quarter before Homer hit a 3-pointer, Neal hit two baskets and two free throws, and Matt Hernandez added a hoop to put MALC ahead 53-41 with 3:14 left.
Homer scored 16 points, Leslie added 10 and Josh Neal and Hernandez each chipped in seven for MALC.
The No. 8-ranked MALC team is 9-3 overall, 9-0 in conference and 3-0 in region, according to the aiaonline.org power point rankings. The No. 23-ranked Northwest Valley Christian is 7-7 overall, 7-6 in conference and 3-2 in region.