3A South is Thatcher’s to lose, but the Eagles are eyeing state as their goal

Steve Carter Photo/Special to the Gila Herald: Brandon Napier drives to the bucket in the third period. Thatcher downed Tanque Verde 82-69.

Wins over Tanque Verde and San Miquel keep Thatcher in the driver’s seat

By Jon Johnson


Jon Johnson Video/Gila Herald

THATCHER – Bradley Curtis had an all-star night with 40 points and 11 rebounds to lead Thatcher over Tanque Verde on Wednesday, 82-69.

“It was a good experience,” said Thatcher head coach Kyle Hull. “That team is tough. They’re young . . . they get on the gas and they don’t get off the throttle (on) both offense and defense.” 

The Eagles followed up the win with a 70-17 thrashing of San Miguel on Thursday. 

The victories make it seven in a row and keep Thatcher a perfect 6-0 in the 3A South, with Palo Verde in second at 3-1, Sabino, and Tanque Verde tied for third at 2-1, and Safford and Pusch Ridge tied for fifth at 2-2.

The team’s main goal involves after the regular season, however, something Bradley Curtis echoed after the game. 

“It feels great, but our main goal is state,” Curtis said. “So, that’s what we want to do.” 

Thatcher 82 – Tanque Verde 69

Steve Carter Photo/Special to the Gila Herald: Bradley Curtis goes up for 2 of his game-high 40 points.

Bradley Curtis came out strong and scored his team’s first 10 points to help Thatcher go up 10-2 early. Bryce Larson nailed a 3-pointer, and he and Brandon Napier both scored off turnovers, yet the Eagles were only up 21-16 after one period. 

Christian Carter got in on the action in the second with two 3-pointers and coupled with Bradley scoring seemingly at will down low the Eagles built a 15-point lead, 35-20, with about 4 minutes left in the half. However, Thatcher wouldn’t score in the second quarter again, and Tanque Verde, spurred by Spencer Larson’s two 3’s and mid-range jumper, scored 15 unanswered points to catch Thatcher at the break, 35-35 after Chris Herndon nailed the long ball on an inside/out game with Caden Watkins. Herndon led the Hawks with 16 points, followed by Trevon Harrison with 15 (12 scored in the fourth period), and Spencer Larson (11 points) and Rich Knott (10 points) both scored in double figures. 

Thatcher started to push away in the third as Cody Jones had some big plays on offense and defense as per his M.O. and broke a tie early in the third. Then to end the period, Jones stole the ball and took it the distance to help put Thatcher up 56-47 heading into the final period. 

Steve Carter Photo/Special to the Gila Herald: Bryce Larson finishes the fast break.

The Hawks never stopped but they couldn’t ever stop Bradley Curtis, who shot 86% from the field (18-21) and finished with a double-double of 40 points and 11 rebounds. Bradley punctuated his night with a fast-break dunk rim rocker that brought the crowd to their feet.

“It felt super good,” Bradley said. “I’ve only dunked a few times this season. I love it. I love to dunk. It’s fun.”  

The ball was well shared throughout the other four starters, who all scored in double figures. Brandon Napier finished with 12 points and 7 assists, while Bryce Larson, Christian Carter, and Cody Jones all finished with 10 points each. Bryce Larson also had 4 assists, and Cody Jones finished with 8 rebounds.

The win puts Thatcher squarely in the driver’s seat with only three region games left in the season. 

“We don’t want to celebrate anything too soon, but yes, it feels good to have maybe a little breathing room if you want to call it that,” Hull said. “We knew this was an important win being a region game and seeing how good they’ve been playing.”  

Thatcher 70 – San Miguel 17

Thatcher burst out to a 27-5 lead at the end of the first period and only allowed two points in a mercy-rule-shortened second half. 

Bradley Curtis led all scorers with 24 points on 67% shooting and 4 rebounds. Brandon Napier finished with 13 points and 4 rebounds, and both Daniel Jones and Cody Jones each had 6 points, but Cody finished with one more rebound, 12, compared to 11 for Daniel.

Steve Carter Photo/Special to the Gila Herald: Christian Carter drives on his man.

Thatcher will next travel to Tucson to face the Catalina Trojans on Tuesday, Jan. 24, starting at 7 p.m., and will then host Pima on Thursday, Jan. 26, starting at 7 p.m.

To see more pics from the game, like and follow the Gila Herald on Facebook.  

In other local prep boys hoops action:

The Safford Bulldogs (2-2 3A South, 10-10 overall) defeated Empire 60-37 for their third win in a row. The Bulldogs will next host Catalina on Saturday, starting at 7 p.m.  

Steve Carter Photo/Special to the Gila Herald: Cody Jones shoots a reverse layup.

The Pima Roughriders (7-0 2A East, 15-3 overall) defeated Tombstone 78-35 on Friday night. The Roughriders next travel to face Bisbee on Tuesday, Jan. 24, starting at 7 p.m. and will then travel to face Thatcher on Thursday, Jan. 26, starting at 7 p.m. 

The Morenci Wildcats (6-2 2A East, 14-8 overall) defeated Santa Rita 78-44 on Friday night. The Wildcats will next host the Benson Bobcats on Tuesday, Jan. 24, starting at 7 p.m. and will have a game the very next day on Wednesday, Jan. 25, hosting the Round Valley Elks, starting at 7:30 p.m. 

The Duncan Wildkats (3-2 1A Tucson Southeast, 8-12 overall) defeated Patagonia Union 45-28. The Wildkats will next host Tombstone on Saturday, Jan. 21, starting at 3:30 p.m. 

The Fort Thomas Apaches (4-2 1A Copper, 12-9 overall) defeated the Hayden Lobos 78-66 on Thursday. The Apaches will next travel to face the Superior Panthers on Monday, Jan. 23, starting at 7 p.m. and the following day will host the Joseph City Wildcats on Tuesday, Jan. 24, starting at 5 p.m.