Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Pima’s Ashlynn Chlarson goes up for 2 of her game-high 22 points. It wasn’t enough, however, as Thacher came out victorious, 36-26.
By Jon Johnson
THATCHER – The Thatcher Eagles (5-1 3A South, 13-2) girls basketball team avenged their earlier EAC Holiday Tournament championship loss to Pima by defeating the Roughriders at home on Thursday, 36-26.
“They’re a great team,” said Thatcher head coach Dennis Griffin. “That was exciting. I’m excited. They’re a great team. They played good; we played good.”
The win was Thatcher’s eighth in a row after falling to 3A South Region leader Pusch Ridge, 42-47 on Jan. 6. While Thatcher hopes to win out its last six games (two region, four freedom) it will need help from someone else to capture the region as it will not get another chance at the Lions in the regular season.
Thatcher 36 – Pima 26
The Eagles utilized a clamp-down defense in the fourth period to limit Pima to just one made field goal to turn a 21-21 tie at the end of three into a 36-26 victory.
For the back-to-back defending 2A State Champion Pima (8-0 region, 20-2 overall), it was all Ashlynn Chlarson, who finished with a game-high 22 points. The 26 total points scored by Pima (Sadie Richardson and Jayci McClain had 2 points each) was the fewest points scored by the Riders in a game this season, by far, and was just their second loss.
“Chlarson is an amazing player,” Griffin said. “We had a hard time stopping her, so we had to send a lot of people in to slow her down. She’s good. It was fun.”
It was a battle of the Ashlyn(n)’s in the first half as Pima’s Ashlynn Chlarson had all of Pima’s 10 points and Thatcher’s Ashlyn Thompson went for 6 of her team-high 14 in the first period and Thatcher went into halftime with an 11-10 lead in a defensive-heavy matchup.
The battle continued in the third, with Macey Carter (5 points), Jaiden Davis (4 points), and Emma Green (6 points) putting in work for Thatcher, while McClain and Richardson got on the board for Pima. Charlson continued her dominance and showed her range by stretching out to hit a three to help tie it up at 21-21 at the end of the third.
But the fourth belonged to Thatcher. The ball bounced Thatcher’s way during the period, and turnovers led to layups and free throws for Thompson, who went 6-8 from the charity stripe during the period.
Hayley Nicholas (7 points) hit a couple of big buckets and Thatcher pulled away for the big 36-26 rivalry win.
Thatcher will next travel to face the St. David Tigers (5-0 1A Tucson Southeast, 21-2) on Monday, Jan. 30, starting at 7 p.m.
Pima will next host Benson (4-4 2A East, 15-7 overall) on Friday, starting at 5:30 p.m.