Duncan girls welcome Patagonia for the region opener Friday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Wildkats high-five one another following the home win over Valley Union. The Wildkats slipped past the Blue Devils 31-29 on Jan. 6. Duncan hosts Patagonia for its initial region pairing on Friday, Jan. 14.

Wildkats slip past Blue Devils to go above .500

DUNCAN – The Duncan Wildkats are at least a generation, or 27 years removed from when they reigned over the state’s 2A ranks as the 1995 state champions, having lost once in 29 games. Duncan was the 1997 state runner-up with a 25-5 record in the same enrollment class. Teams would be hard-pressed to match in succeeding seasons. It doesn’t mean the current Duncan student-athletes aren’t working hard or trying to improve with each outing, there are doing both, there just aren’t very many of them with the enrollment decline.

The Eric Bejarano-coached 1A South Wildkats welcome Patagonia Friday, Jan. 14 for their initial region contest with an 8-member roster. Saint David is at Cibecue on the same date.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Kaylee Kempton looks to pass the ball to an open teammate.

Patagonia is also at San Simon and Saint David at Fort Thomas on Tuesday, Jan. 11 during the first full week of region pairings.

In non-region pairings for region members, San Simon hosts California Winterhaven San Pasqual on Monday, Jan. 10; Cibecue at Kearny Ray on Jan. 11; Patagonia at Tucson ASDB on Wednesday, Jan. 12; Saint David at Benson on Thursday, Jan. 13; San Simon at ASDB Jan. 14; and Cibecue at Duncan, Fort Thomas at Gilbert Leading Edge, and Sells Baboquivari at Saint David on Saturday, Jan. 15.

Cibecue defeated Valley Union 42-32 in Elfrida during a region contest on Jan. 7 and Fort Thomas ran away from Sells Baboquivari 75-24 in a non-region pairing on Jan. 8.

The region members were ranked No. 3 through No. 35 of 41 in the enrollment class following the initial week of rankings. Fort Thomas (15-3 overall, 7-1 seeding, 10.8320 rating, 0-0 region) is No. 3, Saint David (9-7, 4-3, 3.7883, 0-0) No. 10, Duncan (8-6, 6-2, 1.1431, 0-0) No. 14, Cibecue (6-8, 3-3, minus 0.4961, 1-0) No. 17, San Simon (2-8, 2-4, minus 5.5306, 0-0) No. 27, Patagonia (3-5, 2-3, minus 3.6589, 0-0) No. 23, and Valley Union (0-11, 0-8, minus 10.4126, 0-1) No. 35.

Duncan is averaging a 43-38 (597-536) score per game or a 5-point margin while Patagonia is averaging a 27-42 (218-338) score per game or a 15-point deficit.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Karly Coats picked off a pass and dribbled down court. The Duncan sophomore was fouled by Valley Union Gio Curiel.

The Lobos have wins of 40-13 over Tucson San Miguel Catholic (Dec. 7), 37-34 over Valley Union (Dec. 10), and 28-27 over San Pasqual (Jan. 6). The losses are 29-47 to Willcox (Nov. 30), 16-30 to San Manuel (Dec. 9), 14-77 to Benson (Dec. 10), 19-67 to Douglas (Dec. 11), and 35-43 to Tombstone (Dec. 16).

Scheduled games with ASDB (Jan. 4) and Nogales Lourdes Catholic (Jan. 5) were canceled.

The Wildkats have wins of 27-22 over Willcox (Nov. 22), 37-30 overt Tucson Saint Augustine Catholic (Nov. 23), 26-16 over Winkelman Hayden (Dec. 7), 39-19 over Anthem Prep (Dec. 8), 31-10 over San Simon (Dec. 14), 35-22 over Willcox (Dec. 21), and 34-12 over Superior (Jan. 7). The losses were 52-20 to Tucson Amphitheater (Nov. 23), 39-17 to Joseph City (Nov. 24), 57-17 to Saint David (Nov. 30), 56-17 to Fort Thomas (Dec. 3), 47-11 to Thatcher (Dec. 18), and 45-23 to Safford (Dec. 20).

McGrath was named to the honor team of the recently completed three-day 45th annual Eastern Arizona Holiday Tourney.

Additionally, the Scarlet and Gray have a free throw percentage of 38 (76-199) compared to 41 (60-147) by its combined opponents.

Individually, sophomore Karly Coats has a percentage of 60 (3-5), senior Kierra Lacey 55 (6-11), sophomore Aubrey Evans 44 (19-43), freshman Emily Kempton 43 (6-14), senior Kiley McGrath 41 (26-63), senior Sadie Hawkins 35 (9-26), junior Kaylee Kempton 19 (4-21), and sophomore Rachel Summer 19 (3-16).

Duncan – 31, Valley Union – 29

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Aubray Evans draws a foul from Valley Union defenders.

Valley Union led 9-1 following the opening quarter, 20-14 at halftime, and 25-23 heading into the fourth quarter. Duncan led once during the first three quarters, a short-lived 23-21 advantage on a field goal by Evans. A second lead, 29-27, was on a field goal scored by Summer from a rebounded missed free throw.

The hosts outscored the visitors 8-4 in the fourth quarter. Duncan made three field goals plus 2-13 free throws compared to a field goal plus 2-5 free throws by Valley Union.

A 3-pointer gave the visiting Blue Devils an 11-point, 12-1, advantage early in the second quarter, but three 3-pointers by McGrath, Hawkins, and Kaylee Kempton, a Hawkins field goal inside the arc, and a pair of Lacey free throws for Duncan pared the deficit to single digits at halftime.

Three field goals, one each by McGrath, Emily Kempton, and Kaylee Kempton plus an Evans free throw versus a lone free throw for the Blue Devils produced the game’s initial tie at 21-21. Three additional deadlocks resulted before the final buzzer sounded, at 23-23 in the third quarter plus 27-27 and 29-29 in the fourth quarter, the last with 30 seconds remaining.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Duncan senior Sadie Hawkins tries to split VUHS defenders Gio Curiel, left, and Kali Prudler, right, en route to the basket.

Evans scored the deciding field goal in the closing seconds. The game was played without the use of a working scoreboard.

Duncan scored on 11 field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 6-19 free throws compared to 11 field goals (four 3-pointers) plus 3-12 free throws by Valley Union.

Evans had 8 points, McGrath 6, Hawkins and Kaylee Kempton 5 apiece, Lacey 3, and both Emily Kempton and Summer had 2 each.

Valley Union got 11 points from sophomore Breiah Two Moons on four field goals (three 3-pointers). Freshman Gio Curiel added 6 points, freshman Lexi Boss 5, freshman Kitana Rogers 3, and both junior Violet Morin and sophomore Kali Prudler had 2 apiece.