By Raymundo Frasquillo
The Steve Chavez-coached Morenci basketball girls returned for a 30-19 second-half outing to post a 59-47 season-opening win over Saint David on Nov. 29. The recharged Wildcats pulled away from a 29-28 first-half lead and an 18-11 opening period advantage.
An Ashley Hernandez 3-pointer knotted the score for a final time, 32-32 with 55 seconds elapsed in the second half and a Krystyna Chavarria basket 1:03 later gave the Wildcats the lead for good.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 6-0 advantage after controlling the opening tip, turning the ball over and rebounding a missed Tigers’ shot. Chavarria’s first two shots and a Hernandez basket came off assists from Aaliyah Manuz, which sparked the run in the opening 1:44.
Saint David countered with a 6-0 run of its own over the ensuing minute to tie the score at 6-6 with 5:01 left in the first period.
Morenci used a full-court defensive alignment to make a 12-5 run for the 18-11 initial 8-minute advantage.
The second period favored the Tigers with a 17-11 advantage, but a couple of ties kept the margin close to a single-point at halftime.
The teams were knotted at 32-32 at the beginning of the second half as Saint David made 2-3 field goals and Morenci 1-3 field goals. However, the Wildcats opened that to an 8-3 advantage, making 3-11 field goals plus 2-2 free throws verses 1-16 field goals plus 1-2 free throws for Saint David to close out the period with a 40-35 lead. Morenci also had a 13-4 rebounding advantage in the same 7-minute span.
The Wildcats did not lose the lead nor were tied during the rest of the game, leading by as many as 21, 56-35, with 3:42 left to play.
“We had a couple of runs early,” Chavez said. “We had to go from a seven-person rotation to a nine-person rotation to save some legs. We were able to do what we wanted.”
He was pleased with the overall effort displayed by the Wildcats. The entire 11-member roster received game court time as seven contributed to the scoring total.
Morenci tallied 22 field goals (four 3-pointers) plus 11-18 free throws verses 18 (three 3-pointers) and 2-4, respectively, for Saint David.
The Wildcats were paced by Chavarria’s 18 points on seven field goals plus 4-6 free throws. Hernandez added 12 points on four field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 2-3 free throws, Manuz 11 on three field goals plus 5-5 free throws, Sabyn Martinez eight, Janene Lang five, Audrey Castillo three and Rhiannon Lang two.
Seven Tigers played with five scoring. Ashley Goodman got a team-high 15 points on six field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 1-2 free throws and Brenna Murray (3 field goals, 4-7 free throws) and Riauna Richardson (4 field goals, 2-4 free throws) each finished with 10 points. Kourtney Trejo added nine points and Jaylin Richardson two.
Morenci hosts the New Mexico Silver High Fighting Colts for freshmen (1 p.m.), junior varsity (2:30 p.m.) and varsity (4 p.m.) contests Saturday, Dec. 3.