Eagles earn region tourney title, host Phoenix for play-in round Wednesday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Pima junior Drew Thompson is defended by Thatcher freshman Brandon Napier as he drives to the basket. The Eagles left Pima with a 60-39 region tourney championship game win Feb. 14.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

PIMA – “The sun will come up tomorrow,” sang Annie.

It did and before it set Saturday, Pima was still ranked No. 6 and Thatcher No. 16. The outcome of Friday’s game did not change the rankings. Hence, the game was meaningless in that regard.

But, ask any of the players involved and they will beg to differ. The smiles worn by the green jersey-clad boys and the tears running down the boys wearing white indicated otherwise. In their eyes, the game meant something. You play to win regardless of who you go up against.

East Region tourney second seed Thatcher ran past top seed Pima 60-39 on the Roughriders’ home court Feb. 14.

“Thatcher couldn’t miss and we couldn’t buy a bucket,” surmised Pima head coach Cliff Thompson.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher freshman Brandon Napier heads to the basket while defended by Pima junior Kaleb Blair. Napier contributed 13 points for the Eagles and Blair three for the Roughriders.

The Eagles jumped out to a 10-point advantage with the first three field goals scored by freshmen Bradley Curtis and Brandon Napier.

Pima senior Alec Judd’s field goal replaced the zeros on the Roughriders’ side of the scoreboard midway into the opening period, but Pima was unable to cut the deficit to single digits during the remainder of the game.

Thatcher led 17-4 following the opening period and had a 21-point advantage, 30-9, when Pima reached double figures on Judd’s second field goal of the game, dropping through the net with 1:05 left in the second period.

The Eagles led 30-11 at halftime. A 9-0 run by the Roughriders narrowed the gap to 10, 20-30, with 3:38 elapsed in the second half. And, Pima did that twice more, 22-32 with 2:54 and 24-34 with 1:34 left in the third period, but was unable to get below that.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Pima junior Tim Salyer is restrained by official Jason Kouts during the fourth period.

Thatcher led 43-26 heading into the final eight minutes and by as much as 24, 60-36, on senior Spencer Steven’s field goal with 45 seconds remaining. A Judd 3-pointer 29 seconds later completed the game’s scoring.

Thatcher totaled 23 field goals (nine 3-pointers) plus 7-10 free throws versus 16 field goals (five 3-pointers) plus 2-5 free throws for Pima.

Junior Michael Greer netted a game-high 20 points on seven field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 3-4 free throws, Napier 13 on five field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 3-4 free throws, and Stevens 12 on five field goals (two 3-pointers). Senior Collin Thompson added nine points and Curtis six.

For Pima, Judd had a team-high 15 points on six field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 1-1 free throws. Junior Tim Salyer added nine points, junior Jason Brimhall six, senior Levi Thygerson five, and both senior Drew Thompson and junior Kaleb Blair three apiece.

As the top seed in the region, Pima had a first-round bye for the region tourney Feb. 11 and downed fourth seed Morenci 69-58 in the semifinals Feb. 13.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher junior Michael Greer directs the Eagles’ offense against Pima senior Alec Judd. Greer had a game-high 20 points and Judd a team-high 15.

Thatcher reached the region tourney final with wins of 62-40 over seventh seed Tombstone in the first round and 59-47 over third seed Bisbee in the semifinals.

Morenci slipped past fifth seed Benson 62-59 and Bisbee defeated sixth seed Willcox 69-57 in the other first-round pairings.

The final 2A East Region standings were Pima first with a 12-0 region record, Thatcher second (9-3), Bisbee third (6-6), Morenci fourth (6-6), Benson fifth (5-7), Willcox sixth (3-9), and Tombstone seventh (1-11).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Pima senior Alec Judd signals the number for an inbounds pass.

Pima topped each region opponent twice, Benson 34-31 (Dec. 10) and 57-38 (Jan. 17), Morenci 55-44 (Dec. 2) and 52-40 (Jan. 21), Bisbee 81-46 (Dec. 3) and 50-41 (Jan. 24), Tombstone 52-22 (Dec. 20) and 64-34 (Jan. 28), Willcox 69-41 (Jan. 29) and 61-35 (Jan. 31), and Thatcher 47-36 (Jan. 14) and 56-44 (Feb. 6).

Thatcher defeated Bisbee twice, 79-54 (Dec. 10) and 69-53 (Jan. 17); Willcox twice, 59-28 (Dec. 11) and 74-38 (Jan. 24); Morenci 62-39 (Jan. 7); Benson twice, 58-37 (Jan. 9) and 75-57 (Feb. 4); and Tombstone twice, 78-49 (Jan. 21) and 63-33 (Feb. 7).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Pima head coach Cliff Thompson calls out instructions to the Roughriders.

Benson’s wins were twice over Bisbee, 62-59 (Dec. 13) and 57-45 (Jan. 21); twice over Tombstone, 42-26 (Dec. 17) and 55-37 (Jan. 24); and 58-37 over Willcox (Dec. 20).

Bisbee topped Willcox twice, 64-31 (Dec. 5) and 72-65 (Feb. 4); Morenci twice, 70-66 (Dec. 20) and 51-45; and Tombstone twice, 74-18 (Jan. 7) and 39-29 (Jan. 31).

Morenci’s wins were 70-40 (Jan. 10) and 50-46 (Feb. 4) over Tombstone, 62-56 (Jan. 14) and 51-46 (Feb. 6) over Benson, 53-47 over Willcox (Jan. 16) and 49-38 over Thatcher (Feb. 1). Willcox bested Morenci 64-59 (Dec. 10), Tombstone 42-37 (Jan. 14) and Benson 55-48 (Jan. 28). Tombstone defeated Willcox 60-42 (Feb. 6).

The final rankings for the 50 2A teams were released Feb. 12, with East Region members Pima No. 6 (16-3 seeding), Thatcher No. 16 (11-7), Bisbee No. 26 (9-9), Morenci No. 27 (8-9), Benson No. 30 (7-10), Willcox No. 38 (3-13), and Tombstone No. 44 (3-15).

Play-in round games for teams ranked No. 9-24 are Wednesday, Feb. 19 at the higher seed with each having a 7 p.m. start. Teams ranked in the top eight, No. 1 Whiteriver Alchesay (18-0 seeding), No. 2 Scottsdale Christian (14-3), No. 3 Glendale Trivium Prep (17-2), No. 4 Glendale Prep (16-2), No. 5 Scottsdale Rancho Solano Prep (10-8), No. 6 Pima (16-3), No, 7 Camp Verde (16-2), and No. 8 Phoenix Arizona Lutheran (14-5), have a bye until later in the week.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher head coach Robby Martindell tells the Eagles what he wants to run during a timeout.

Number 24 Sedona Red Rock (7-11) is at No. 9 Phoenix Country Day School (12-5), No. 23 Parker (8-10) at No. 10 Tucson Saint Augustine (14-3), No. 22 Scottsdale Cicero Prep (10-6) at No. 11 Chandler Prep (16-3), No. 21 Phoenix Christian (10-8) at No. 12 Saint Johns (14-4), No. 20 Gilbert Classical (11-7) at No. 13 Gilbert Leading Edge (12-6), No. 19 Sanders Valley (11-8) at No. 14 San Manuel (14-5), No. 18 San Carlos (10-8) at No. 15 Miami (13-5), and No. 17 Tonopah Valley (11-7) at No. 16 Thatcher (11-7).

The 2A state tourney resumes in the Prescott area with the round of 16 pairing the play-in winners with the top eight Friday, Feb. 21. The quarterfinals are Saturday, Feb. 22.

Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 1826 West McDowell Road in Phoenix, will be the site of the semifinals Feb. 28 and final Feb. 29.