By Raymundo Frasquillo
MORENCI – The Steve Chavez-coached Morenci basketball girls visit the Bisbee Pumas Tuesday, Jan. 9 and the Benson Bobcats Friday, Jan. 12, both for a region contests, and host the New Mexico Silver High Fighting Colts Saturday, Jan. 13.
Other 2A East Region contests this week include Pima at Benson and Thatcher at Willcox Tuesday, Tombstone at Bisbee Wednesday, Thatcher at Benson Thursday, and Bisbee at Pima and Tombstone at Willcox Friday.
Morenci (5-10 overall, 3-5 seeding, minus 3.9259 rating, 3-2 region for No. 4) is ranked No. 30 of 51 2A teams while Bisbee (4-10, 1-6, minus 11.5162, 1-5 for No. 6) is No. 45 as of Jan. 6.
The rest of the East Region teams are No. 14 Pima (7-6, 6-2, 1.6119, 5-0 for No. 1), No. 16 Benson (10-5, 5-3, 0.6811, 3-1 for No. 2), No. 29 Thatcher (9-8, 3-4, minus 3.4701, 3-1 for No. 3), No. 36 Willcox (3-8, 2-6, minus 6.1124, 1-4 for No. 5), and No. 49 Tombstone (2-13, 1-7, minus 14.2192, 0-4 for No. 7).
Morenci opened the season with three Cochise County teams and a 2-1 record, losing 47-57 to St. David Nov. 28, edging Benson 35-34 in region play Dec. 1 and Willcox 42-40 in region play Dec. 5; went 1-3 at the Round Valley Roundball Shootout, losing 20-56 to Round Valley and downing Cibecue 50-41 Dec. 7, plus falling 29-46 to St. Johns and 55-62 to Show Low Dec. 8; succumbed 19-58 to Pima in region play Dec. 12; went 1-2 at the 40th Eastern Arizona Holiday Tourney, falling 22-47 to Thatcher Dec. 14 and 40-47 to Willcox Dec. 15 before defeating Duncan 44-20 for 7th place Dec. 16; and falling 27-67 to New Mexico Bayard Cobre Dec. 19.
Last week, the Wildcats succumbed 27-55 to New Mexico Lordsburg in Morenci Jan. 2 and 34-58 to the Eagles in Thatcher on Jan. 5, and topped the visiting Bisbee Pumas, 40-15, Jan. 6. The Thatcher and Bisbee games were region contests.
Morenci – 40, Bisbee – 15
The Wildcats broke a 3-game skid by jumping out to a 22-5 opening period outing versus the visiting Pumas. A 26-point halftime advantage, following a second-period defensive effort which held the Pumas scoreless, allowed the Wildcats to whether a 9-10 second-half deficit.
The Wildcats netted 16 field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 7-12 free throws compared to six field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 0-2 free throws.
Senior Ashley Hernandez paced the Wildcats with 16 points on five field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 5-8 free throws and senior Alex Chee 10 on four field goals plus 2-2 free throws. Senior Janeene Lang added four points, junior Reona Alvarez, freshman Destinee Marquez, freshman Hannah Pollock, sophomore Sarina Robledo, and sophomore Brigid Silverster to apiece.
For Bisbee, Valdez had four points, Loya, Moore, and Villegas three each, and Loreto two.
Thatcher – 58, Morenci – 34
Morenci outscored Thatcher 11-2 in the fourth period, but it trailed 23-56 at the start of the final eight minutes of play. Thatcher had double-digit scoring in each of the prior three periods, leading 17-6 after the opening period and 36-14 at halftime.
The Wildcats totaled 11 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 10-17 free throws versus 22 field goals (five 3-pointers) plus 9-10 free throws by Thatcher.
Hernandez tallied 15 points on three field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 7-8 free throws. Chee added seven points, Silvester five, Alvarez, sophomore Desiree Babb, and senior Heather Lee two apiece, and Robledo one.
For Thatcher, junior Brooklynn Angle contributed 17 points on six field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 2-2 free throws, senior Corinne Bryce 11 on four field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 2-2 free throws, and junior Kaitlynn Rasmussen 10 on three field goals plus 4-4 free throws. Sophomore Taya Baldwin and senior Alyson Wakefield both had nine points, and junior Lacie Whitmer two.
Lordsburg – 55, Morenci – 27
The Wildcats shutout Lordsburg 6-0 in the fourth period, but trailed 8-17 after the opening period, 18-36 at halftime, and 21-55 heading into the final eight minutes of play.
“Not tonight,” surmised Coach Chavez as he walked off the court following the loss to the visiting Mavericks.
On the night, Morenci totaled nine field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 7-13 free throws compared to 23 field goals (five 3-pointers) plus 4-10 free throws by Lordsburg.
Seven Wildcats contributed single-figure scoring, led by Chee’s nine points. Sylvester added five points, Lee four, Hernandez and junior Faith Hood three apiece, Babb two, and Lang one.
Six Mavericks scored with three in double figures. Analisa Castaneda tallied 17 points on seven field goals plus 3-6 free throws, Anissa Plowman 13 on five field goals (three 3-pointers), and Gabby Artiaga 10 on four field goals (two 3-pointers). Ryan Roybal added eight points, Madison Miller five, and Alish Widby two.
Cobre – 67, Morenci – 27
Morenci doubled its offensive output in the second half, but it was not enough to overcome a 24-point, 9-33, first-half deficit. Cobre had double-digit scoring in each period, leading 14-5 after the opening period and 54-21 heading into the fourth period.
The Wildcats made 11 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 2-5 free throws compared to 28 field goals (eight 3-pointers) plus 3-8 free throws by the Indians.
Hernandez totaled six points, senior Destiny Apodaca, Chee, and Silvester five apiece, Alvarez, Babb, and Lee two each.
For Cobre, Skkyla Guck amassed a game-high 27 points on 11 field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 2-4 free throws, Jessica Martinez 24e on 10 field goals (three 3-pointers), and Angelina Bencomo 10 on four field goals (two 3-pointers). Danielle Esqueda added four points and Trinity Ruiz three.
Morenci – 44, Duncan – 20
The gray-clad Wildkats outscored the white-clad Wildcats 10-0 in the final 2:47 of the game, but Morenci had double-digit scoring in three periods to withstand its 3-11 final period outing.
Duncan scored the game’s initial two points with 25 seconds elapsed and a Lee field goal with 1:20 later gave the Wildcats a 3-2 and the lead for good. The Wildcats led 13-4 after the opening period, 31-7 at halftime, and 41-9 heading into the final period; and had a 34-point advantage, 44-19, with 3:23 left to play.
Morenci totaled 13 field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 17-29 free throws compared to seven field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 5-12 free throws by Duncan.
All 10 Wildcats contributed to the scoring total and Hernandez was selected to the all-tourney team. Chee had 14 points on four field goals plus 6-8 free throws. Hernandez and Lee added seven points apiece, Silvester five, Babb four, Martinez and Pollock two each, and Alvarez, Apodaca, and Lang one apiece.
For Duncan, senior Payton Damron had eight points, freshman Melissa Claridge and junior Kaitlynn Stergion four apiece, senior Keeley Wagley three, and sophomore Kaktys Garcia one.
Morenci entered the meet with a .500 (55-55) record in its previous 37 tourneys, but a 1-2 mark left them at .496 (56-57) after 38.
Willcox – 47, Morenci – 40
A 9-14 fourth-period outing foiled a comeback and reversed the outcome of 10 days prior. Morenci led 9-4 following the opening period but trailed 19-21 at halftime and 31-33 at the start of the final eight minutes.
The Wildcats totaled 15 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 8-15 free throws compared to 14 field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 16-25 free throws by Willcox.
Chee and Hernandez contributed 13 points apiece, Chee on five field goals plus 3-4 free throws and Hernandez on four field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 3-7 free throws. Silvester added eight points, and both Lang and Lee four each.
For Willcox, senior Danielle Barba tallied 20 points on six field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 5-7 free throws. Senior Wren Klump had seven points, senior Maddie Michaels five, senior Rebecca Archuleta four, sophomore Tapanga Alexander, senior Zanati Garza, and sophomore Jordyn Rhinehart three apiece, and freshman Syndey Webster two.
Thatcher – 47, Morenci – 22
Morenci was held to single digits in each of the periods while the host Eagles scored in double figures in three periods. Thatcher led 7-3 following the opening period, 18-7 at halftime, and 31-14 heading into the fourth period.
The Wildcats connected on nine field goals (four 3-pointers) compared to 22 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 3-12 free throws by Thatcher.
Four Wildcats scored with Silvester netting seven points, Hernandez six, Lang five, and Chee four.
For Thatcher, Angle got 21 points on nine field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 1-2 free throws and Bryce 10 on five field goals plus 0-2 free throws. Baldwin, senior Sydney Damron, and Rasmussen added four points apiece, and both Wakefield and Whitmer two each.