Duncan girls display improved play in recent three games

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Duncan sophomore Kierra Lacey eludes a Valley Union first-half trap. The Wildkats led after the opening period, but the Blue Devils left Duncan with a non-region win Jan. 10. Duncan’s next home game is with Arete Prep on Jan. 17.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

DUNCAN – A 2-1 record in the most recent three games may not seem like much, but, considering the physically draining aspect surrounding them, it is an accomplishment.

Duncan returned from the holiday break to defeat the NFL Yet Eagles 35-17 in Phoenix Jan. 7, slip past the San Simon Longhorns 28-25 Jan. 9, and succumb 36-50 to the visiting Elfrida Valley Union Blue Devils Jan. 10.

The Wildkats have averaged a 30-39 (477-621) score per game or a 9-point deficit through 16 games. Duncan has still made and taken more free throws than its combined opponents, but, the shooting percentage is 43 (103-241) for the Wildkats compared to 48 (78-161) for their opponents.

Senior Kaktys Garcia leads the team in free-throw shooting percentage with 58 (14-24), followed by junior Melissa Claridge at 45 (40-89), sophomore Kiley McGrath at 42 (24-57), senior Kaitlyn Lunt at 39 (14-36), sophomore Kierra Lacey at 38 (3-8), freshman Kaylee Kempton at 36 (4-11), junior Hailai Moreno at 33 (4-12), and junior Mia Hoglan 0-2.

The Wildkats are ranked 19th (4-5 seeding, minus 2.9614 rating) of 35 1A teams to start the second week of January, after being No. 24 (2-4, minus 4.3019) in the initial Jan. 7 rankings. Fort Thomas is No. 9 (5-3, 3.3493), Cibecue No. 13 (4-4, 0.1294), Kearny Ray No. 15 (4-4, minus 0.3021), Arete Prep No. 17 (7-3, minus 0.4713), Winkelman Hayden No. 18 (5-3, minus 0.9823), NFL Yet No. 31 (1-6, minus 8.7631), and Superior No. 32 (0-8, minus 11.8086).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Duncan senior Kaitlyn Lunt makes it difficult for Valley Union junior Victoria Armijo to get a good look at the basket. Armijo ended with 18 points and Lunt with 12.

Fort Thomas (2-0) is atop the 1A East Region, Hayden second (1-0), Cibecue third (1-1), Duncan fourth (1-1), Arete Prep fifth (0-0), Ray sixth (0-0), Superior seventh (0-1), and NFL Yet eighth (0-2).

Duncan travels to Fort Thomas Tuesday, Jan. 14 and to Tucson Immaculate Heart Wednesday, Jan. 15 before welcoming Gilbert Arete Prep Friday, Jan. 17. The Fort Thomas and Arete Prep games are in region play.

The other region pairings this week are Hayden at Arete Prep and Ray at NFL Yet on Tuesday, Jan. 14; Arete Prep at NFL Yet on Wednesday, Jan. 15; Hayden at Superior on Thursday, Jan. 16; Ray at Hayden on Friday, Jan. 17; and Cibecue at Ray on Saturday, Jan. 18.

Non-region contests include Saint David at NFL Yet Jan. 13, Sells Baboquivari at Fort Thomas and Bagdad at NFL Yet Jan. 16, Phoenix Arizona Lutheran at Superior and NFL Yet at Prescott Valley Mingus Mountain Jan. 17, and Saint Michaels at Fort Thomas Jan. 18.

Valley Union – 50, Duncan – 36

Duncan led 10-9 after the opening period, but a field goal eight seconds into the second period along with an 8-0 run in its initial 2:37 gave the visitors the lead for good.

Senior Kaitlyn Lunt’s field goal broke up the run with 4:56 left in the half. The Wildkats matched the Blue Devils point-for-point the rest of the period but trailed 16-23 at halftime.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Kaylee Kempton sets her sights on the basket against Valley Union. The Duncan freshman contributed two first-period points while visiting junior Victoria Armijo had 18 points.

The Wildkats got within seven points, 22-29, mid-way into the third period, but no closer. A Valerie De La Cruz 3-pointer expanded the deficit to double figures with 3:43 left in the period, and the Blue Devils kept it during the remainder of the game. Valley Union led by 16, 50-34, with 58 seconds left.

“I attribute the loss to the long trip to Phoenix (Tuesday),” Coach Eric Bejarano said. “The girls were (physically) still tired. We were flat (toward the end).”

Duncan connected on 15 field goals plus 6-15 free throws compared to 17 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 14-22 free throws by Valley Union.

Lunt tallied 12 points on six field goals. Claridge added nine points, McGrath six, Garcia five, and Kempton and Lacey two apiece.

For Valley Union, senior Rebekah Claus-Walker had 21 points on six field goals plus 9-13 free throws and junior Victoria Armijo 18 on seven field goals plus 4-5 free throws. Senior Emely Cuevas and De La Cruz added three points apiece, sophomore Breana Enriquez and freshman Baleigh Casady two each, and sophomore Anet Fimbres one.

Duncan – 28, San Simon – 25

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Duncan sophomore Kiley McGrath helped defend Rebekah Claus-Walker in the first half. The Valley Union senior did not score in the first period but spread a game-high 21 points in the other three periods.

The Wildkats led 18-17 heading into the final eight minutes with a 10-8 effort assuring the win.

Duncan made 10 four field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 7-14 free throws versus seven field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 9-17 free throws by San Simon.

Claridge totaled 13 points on four field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 4-8 free throws. Lunt added six points, McGrath three, and Garcia, Kempton, and Lacey two apiece.

For the Longhorns, Yvonne Hernandez had a game-high 18 points on four field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 9-11 free throws. Stefanie Keil added three points, and Kaylee Essary and Alexis Lentz two each.

Duncan – 35, NFL Yet – 17

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Melissa Claridge goes up for a first-half shot attempt as Valley Union sophomore Breana Enriquez defends. The Duncan junior ended with nine second-half points while Enriquez totaled two points.

Duncan led 8-3 after the opening period, 12-5 at halftime, and 22-12 heading into the final eight minutes. A 13-5 fourth period effort assured the win.

For the game, Duncan had 14 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 7-18 free throws versus six field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 2-4 free throws by NFL Yet.

Claridge netted a game-high 13 points on five field goals plus 3-6 free throws and McGrath 12 on four field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 2-4 free throws. Garcia added five points, Lacey four, Lunt two, and Moreno one.

For the Eagles, junior Amairani Clovel had a team-high 12 points on four field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 2-2 free throws. Junior Kamill Rodriguez added three points and sophomore Xiomara Dominguez two.

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