By Raymundo Frasquillo
A heart-breaking one-point play-in contest loss ended Morenci’s 2017 season in Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium on Feb. 10. The Keams Canyon Hopi Bruins left with a 52-51 state tourney pass, redeemable Friday, for the first round in the Prescott area.
The state tourney will have a 16-team field beginning single-elimination first-round play Feb. 17 and concluding in the Prescott Valley Events Center on Feb. 25.
Number 4 Chandler Prep (17-1 power record, 15.5673 rating) hosts No. 13 Benson (9-9, 2.1364) at 10:30 a.m. and No. 1 Thatcher (18-0, 21.2358) hosts No. 16 Eagar Round Valley (7-10, minus 0.6792) at noon on the Prescott Valley Bradshaw Mountain High School campus.
The other pairings are No. 7 Phoenix Country Day (14-4, 11.1172) hosts No. 10 Camp Verde (14-4, 5.8390) at noon and No. 3 Scottsdale Christian (15-2, 15.7407) hosts No. 14 Many Farms (8-11, 1.5081) at 7:30 p.m. on the Yavapai Community College campus; No. 6 Sedona Red Rock (17-1, 14.6198) hosts No. No. 11 San Carlos (13-5, 3.0654) at 3 p.m. and No. 8 Gilbert Christian (15-3, 9.4554) hosts No. 9 Whiteriver Alchesay (12-6, 6.9473) at 6 p.m. in the Prescott Valley Events Center; No. 5 Sanders Valley (17-1, 14.8832) hosts No. 12 Tonopah Valley (14-3, 2.2649) at 3 p.m. on the Prescott High campus; Gilbert Leading Edge (18-1, 19.3116) hosts Hopi (6-12, minus 0.5233) at 4:30 p.m. on the Bradshaw Mountain campus.
Morenci vs. Hopi
The visitors controlled the opening tip and scored the contest’s initial basket with 1:22 elapsed in the game. Morenci tied it 32 seconds later, and Hopi went on a 10-7 spurt to lead 11-9 before a Sabyn Martinez basket knotted the score at 11-11 with 1:48 left. A Krystyna Chavarria basket gave Morenci a 13-11 advantage 34 seconds later, and the period ended with the 2-point edge.
Chavarria and Martinez baskets within the first minute of the second period extended the margin to six, a Chavarria 3-pointer verses a free throw made it eight points two minutes later. Three of four Chavarria free throws plus a Janeene Lang basket verses a Bruins basket gave Morenci an 11-point advantage, 25-14, by the time Hopi scored another basket with 3:11 left in the half.
The Bruins chipped away at the deficit, however, adding a couple more baskets verses a free throw until the deficit was six with two minutes until the half ended.
Morenci had a 25-19 advantage, but a pair of Angela Adams 3-pointers, the first with 1:38 left and the second with 35 seconds left, tied the score at 27-27 by the time the half ended.
A Martinez free throw and 3-pointer gave the Wildcats the last lead they would have in the second half, 31-27, within the opening two minutes. Hopi unleashed five more 3-pointers by three different players in the period, taking a 5-point, 44-39, advantage after a 17-12 outing.
Hopi’s eighth 3-pointer, with 13 seconds elapsed in the final eight minutes of play, gave the Bruins a 47-39 advantage.
An Ashley Hernandez lay-up plus three consecutive Jadye Rivas baskets coupled with a pair of Martinez free throws verses a Jaede Honani three-point play, brought the deficit to one, 49-50 with two minutes remaining.
Hopi scored a basket with a minute left, and Morenci added a pair of Chavarria free throws with 5.6 seconds remaining, but that would be the extent of the scoring for either team.
Morenci outscored Hopi 12-8 in the final period, but it was not enough. Instead of preparing for the state meet, the Wildcats will inventory equipment this week.
“I thought we could power them inside,” Morenci head coach Steve Chavez said. “We had two scouting reports on them, but we didn’t know about their little quick guard. She hadn’t played in either game we knew about. She was the difference. I told her so after the game and wished them a safe trip home.”
Morenci made 20 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 9-17 free throws verses 20 field goals (eight 3-pointers) plus 4-13 free throws for Hopi.
Inside players Chavarria and Martinez both racked up double figure scoring. Chavarria contributed 18 points on six field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 5-6 free throws and Martinez 16 on six field goals plus 4-7 free throws. Rivas added eight points, Hernandez five and both Aaliyah Manuz and Janeene Lang two each.
Martinez collected 13 rebounds, Chavarria 11, Manuz five and Rivas three; Manuz handed out 12 assists; Chavarria and Rivas had 6 3steals apiece and Hernandez made two blocks.
Four Bruins contributed double-digit scoring, Angela Adams, Jaeda Honani, Taminny Laragutierrez and Taylor Seechoma. Adams had 12 points on four field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 1-2 free throws, Laragutierrez scored 12 on five field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 0-2 free throws, Honani 11 on four field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 1-3 free throws, and Seechoma 10 on four field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 1-4 free throws. Kelly Johnson added four points and Zoe Cook three.