By Raymundo Frasquillo
The Morenci boys basketball team got off to a quick start en route to a 64-42 season-opening win over the visiting Saint David Tigers on Nov. 29.
Starting three seniors and two sophomores, the Wildcats controlled the opening tip and scored on four of their initial five field goal attempts to take an 8-0 lead with 2:07 elapsed in the game. The Tigers scored 16 seconds later after missing their first four shots. By the time Saint David sank its second basket, the deficit was nine points (3-12), with 1:45 left in the period.
The Wildcats ended the opening period with a John Olmsted catch-and-turn-around 3-pointer that fell through the net with no time left on the clock. Morenci led by 14, 19-5, after connecting on an additional 5-13 field goals plus 2-2 free throws compared to 1-7 more field goals by Saint David. The Red and Black had a 13-5 rebounding advantage and one less turnover during the period.
Morenci extended its advantage to 17, 31-14, with 2:42 left in the second period, before Saint David went on an 8-2 run to pare the deficit to 10, 23-33, with 30 seconds left in the half. However, the halftime score favored Morenci by 13, 36-23.
The Tigers got within nine, 27-36, with 2:46 elapsed in the third period, but no closer.
“We’re young and can’t do a lot of things,” Morenci head coach Patrick Hepper said. “We try to do the things we can really, really well.
“Two of the things we can control are attitude and intensity,” Hepper said. “We had that tonight.”
Morenci led by 20, 49-29, on a Jordan Leonard 3-pointer with 1:15 left in the third period and by as much as 24, 64-40, on an Edward Castellano free throw with 1:24 left in the game.
For the game, seven of Morenci’s nine-member roster connected on 22 field goals (12 3-pointers) plus 8-11 free throws. Leonard tallied 18 points on six field goals (four 3-pointers) plus 2-3 free throws, Olmsted 13 on four field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 3-4 free throws and Andres Nofchissey 12 on four field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 2-2 free throws. Castellano added nine points, Chris Leonard six and both David Corona and Ruben Little three points each.
Saint David made 17 field goals (seven 3-pointers) plus 1-1 free throws. Austin Bryant totaled 19 points on eight field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 1-1 free throws and James Brogan 11 on four field goals (three 3-pointers). Curtis Mayberry added seven points, Ryan Trejo three and Logan Brubaker two.
“Saint David is a pretty good 1A team and will probably be one of the four competing for the state title,” Hepper said.
The Wildcats next home games are with Pima on Dec. 13 and Safford on Dec. 14.