Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Ashlyn Thompson (32) leads a fast-break in the first half of play. Thatcher defeated Coolidge, 72-35 on Tuesday night.
Stay one game ahead of Safford atop 3A South Central
By Jon Johnson
THATCHER – The Thatcher girls basketball team took an early 7-0 lead against the visiting Coolidge Bears on Tuesday and they never looked back.
Coolidge hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to four, but it never got that close again as Thatcher ran away with the victory, 72-35.
Thatcher held Coolidge to single-digit scoring in every quarter except the fourth and took an early 20-8 advantage after one-quarter of play.
The Eagles’ relentless defense turned into easy offense off fast-breaks, often led by Ashlyn Thompson, who finished with 11 points on the night. After going for 20 and 21 points in the opening two quarters, Thatcher took a 41-15 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Eagles never took their foot off the gas and scored 13 in the third and 18 during a running-clock fourth to secure the easy 72-35 victory.
Olivia Lunt led the way for the Eagles with 13 points, followed by Macey Carter and Thompson with 11 each, Aubrey Pace and Jaiden Davis with 7 each, Cassidy Wakefield and Jade Griffin with 6 each, Marleigh Nicholas with 5, Mickenzi Drage with 4, and Haley Nicholas with 2.
The one bright spot for Coolidge was Brooklyn Pablo who went for a game-high 29 points. She didn’t get much help, however, with only Chelzie Downs hitting for 5, and Nei’Shae Clegg scoring one free throw to add to the team’s total.
The win was the fourth in a row for Thatcher, giving it an 8-2 overall record and remaining unbeaten at 6-0 in the region. Thatcher sits atop the 3A South Central Region with Friday’s cross-town rival opponent Safford nipping at their heels.
Safford (7-4 overall, 5-1 region) defeated the Pusch Ridge Lions 50-25 on Tuesday. The Bulldogs hope to avenge their earlier season loss to the Eagles (45-64) and join them at the top of the 3A South Central Region. A win for Thatcher would put them in the driver’s seat to capture the regional title.
In other local girls hoops action:
The Fort Thomas Apaches (10-2 overall, 2-0 region) defeated the Ray Bearcats, 64-35. The Apaches are in first place in the 1A North East Region and will next host the Globe Tigers on Wednesday, starting at 5:30 p.m.
The Duncan Wildkats (5-9 overall, 1-3 region) fell to the Desert Christian Eagles, 33-37. The Wildkats will next host the San Manuel Miners on Thursday, Feb. 18, starting at 5:30 p.m.
The Morenci Wildcats (3-5 overall, 1-4 region) had their home contest against the St. Johns Redskins canceled.