Buena, ranked No. 1, passes Sunnyside, 86-68

Buena beat Sunnyside on the road, 86-68 Thursday night, led by senior Jake Smith’s record 29 points. (All Tucson Sports)

Buena Head Coach Tyler Molesworth — who is officially 21-1 since taking the helm in 2020 — doesn’t let the Colts’ No. 1 ranking in the state ring in his players’ minds.

Since the AIA doesn’t count regular-season tournaments in its official rankings, Molesworth still thinks the Colts have some work to do to prove they deserve to be at the top.

“We’ve played in two tournaments where we haven’t won all those games, so I have to keep those guys focused by saying, ‘Hey, we haven’t won all the games – in my opinion. We’re still not the best team because we’ve lost a few games – in my opinion,” Molesworth said. “So we still have to show everyone that we are still the number one team.

“We do it night after night, doing our best.”

Whether Molesworth believes the hype or not, No. 1-ranked Buena played for a top team on Thursday night, soundly beating South foe 5A Sunnyside, 86-68.

Buena (12-0, 7-0 5A Southern) held a 41-31 lead at halftime, ahead of the Colts’ team defense, and an offensive barrage from the senior guard James Smith and senior wing Cooper Jones propelled Buena to a 62-45 lead over Sunnyside after three quarters.

Buena would build the lead to 86-57 with 2:12 left in the fourth quarter before Molesworth went to the reserves bench to end the game.

Smith and Jones finished with 53 points combined.

In a sign of things to come, Buena opened the game on a 13-3 run fueled by two field goals inside Smith’s arc, and two 3-pointers from Jones.

Sunnyside Senior Guard jesus martinez kept the Blue Devils in the game by scoring their next eight points on a field goal and two consecutive 3-pointers. Still, Smith responded with three field goals to give Buena a 19-11 advantage with 1:09 left in the first quarter.

“I knew it was going to be a tough game, so I just tried to stay calm,” Smith said. “I tried to keep the game under control when the ball was in my hand, and it worked for us in the end.”

Closest Sunnyside (9-6, 4-2 5A Southern) would get the rest of the game was at 27-21 with 4:20 left in the second quarter and 35-28 with 1:40 left before halftime .

Molesworth is building a winning culture in Buena, and it’s not built on a foundation of entitlement.

“It’s a culture of hard work and effort,” he said. “You don’t just assume you can go out and take what’s yours, and you have to put in the effort when no one is looking in order to perform on the floor. Hope the kids take this to heart and use it for the rest of their lives.

“It’s the things in private that will make the things in public work.”

Smith finished with 29 points.

Jones finished with 24 points.

Martinez finished with 19 points.

Main Leader of Sunnyside Marcos Fuentes finished with 12 points.

Buena will next play Ironwood Ridge at home today (Friday) at 7 p.m.

Sunnyside next plays Desert View at home on Jan. 25 at 7 p.m.

Editorial Intern ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed the athletics of the Arizona Wildcats since childhood. Murphy is a journalist product manager at the Green Valley News and the Sahuarita Sun. He is currently attending ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.

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