Five East Region girls basketball standouts lauded with all-state honors

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher bench checks the 2A state championship game first half action. The Eagles did not have an all-region selection but landed two with all-conference (all-state) honors.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

PHOENIX – The No. 3 Thatcher Eagles edged top seed Camp Verde 51-50 for the state title to conclude the season but did not have any all-region selections. However, two Eagles received all-conference or all-state honors. Junior Cassidy Wakefield was named to the first team and senior Taya Baldwin to the second team.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher junior Cassidy Wakefield steps over to defend Camp Verde senior Jacy Finley. The players both received all-conference (all-state) first-team honors. Findley was the conference player of the year.

Wakefield averaged 11.8 (367) points and 7.7 (238) rebounds per game while playing in 31 games. Her shooting percentages were 44 (128-291 floor) plus 65 (111-170 line).

Baldwin averaged 8.2 (204) points and 7.7 (193) rebounds per game during 25 games. Her shooting percentages were 42 (86-207 floor) plus 48 (20-42 line).

Other East Region student-athletes receiving state-level recognition were Bisbee freshman Gabby Lopez first team; Pima sophomore Saydee Allred second team; Pima sophomore Aubrie Sherwood, Benson junior Emily Darwin, and Morenci sophomore Zenayah Cortez honorable mention.

Gilbert Leading Edge junior Morgan Smith was the conference defensive player of the year, San Carlos senior Heaven Cosen the conference offensive player of the year, and Camp Verde senior Jacy Finley the conference player of the year. Saint Johns head coach Ray Davis was the conference coach of the year.

Smith averaged 13.1 (340) points and 5.3 (137) rebounds per game with shooting percentages of 39 (121-314 floor) plus 67 (36-54 line) in 26 games.

Cosen averaged 17.7 (442) points and 3.8 (96) rebounds per game with shooting percentages of 49 (163-334 floor) plus 76 (84-111 line) in 25 games.

Finley averaged 13.0 (364) points and 10.1 (237) rebounds per game with shooting percentages of 55 (163-296 floor) plus 65 (35-54 line) in 28 games.

2A East First Team

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Pima sophomore Aubrie Sherwood closes the gap between her and Heaven Cosen. The players both received all-conference honors, Cosen first team, and Sherwood honorable mention. The San Carlos senior was also tabbed as the conference offensive player of the year. Sherwood was also on the East Region first team.

There were only a couple of seniors receiving 2A East Region all-region honors in 2020 and each member team should return its best players for the 2021 campaign.

First-team selections were Bisbee junior Melissa Villegas and freshman Gabby Lopez, Pima sophomores Saydee Allred and Aubrie Sherwood, Benson junior Emily Darwin, and Morenci sophomore Zenayah Cortez.

Lopez averaged 18.7 (542) points and 5.4 (158) rebounds per game with a free throw shooting percentage of 63 (113-178) in 29 games.

Darwin averaged 15.8 (427) points and 9.4 (254) rebounds per game with shooting percentages of 35 (182-513 floor) plus 44 (48-98 line) in 27 games.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci sophomore Zenayah Cortez moves in for a rebounding position against Bisbee freshman Gabby Lopez during a Feb. 1 region pairing. Lopez, averaging 5.4 rebounds, was named to the all-conference first team while Cortez, averaging 9.9 rebounds, received all-conference honorable mention. The players were both on the East Region first team.

Allred averaged 13.9 (277) points and 5.4 (108) rebounds per game with shooting percentages of 32 (98-340 floor) plus 68 (48-71 line) in 20 games.

Cortez averaged 12.9 (309) points and 9.9 (232) rebounds per game with shooting percentages of 33 (118-361 floor) plus 50 (69-137 line) in 24 games.

Sherwood averaged 11.1 (222) points and 5.4 (107) rebounds per game with shooting percentages of 44 (89-201 floor) plus 71 (29-41 line) in 20 games.

Villegas averaged 7.5 (217) points and 1.3 (38) rebounds per game with a free throw shooting percentage of 50 (4-8) in 29 games.

Darwin was the region defensive player of the year, Allred the region offensive player of the year, and Lopez the region player of the year. Bisbee head coach Courtney Borquez was the region coach of the year.

2A East Second Team

Second team honorees were Bisbee juniors Yasmin Morales and Jenitza Valenzuela, Pima junior Nevaeh Grant, Benson sophomore Shaylin Taylor, Morenci senior Brigid Silvester, and Tombstone junior Shantay Malone.

Taylor averaged 9.7 (263) points and 6.9 (186) rebounds in 27 games, Silvester 9.5 (257) points and 4.0 (108) rebounds in 24 games, Grant 9.2 (184) points and 2.8 (55) rebounds in 20 games, Morales 7.2 (208) points and 4.7 (136) rebounds in 29 games, Valenzuela 6.0 (163) points and 2.0 (54) rebounds in 27 games, and Malone 5.8 (115) points and 3.0 (60) rebounds in 20 games.

2A East Honorable Mention

Honorable Mention was received by Bisbee junior Jimena Valdez and sophomore Alexia Lopez, Pima sophomore Ashlie Sherwood, Benson junior Jennifer Barker, Morenci junior Destanee Marquez, and sophomore Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar, Tombstone junior Hailey Flores and freshman Keirsten Schilling, and Willcox senior Tapanga Alexander and junior Ana Barajas. Valdez averaged 5.0 points and 3.9 rebounds, Lopez 4.9 and 1.8, Sherwood 7.7 and 7.7, Barker 4.7 and 5.6, Marquez 7.0 and 7.7, Aguilar 7.8 and 8.0, Flores 3.9 and 0.8, and Schilling 5.0 and 6.9. Alexander and Barajas averaged 5.2 points per game and 4.6, respectively.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Taya Baldwin recovers a loose ball and passes it to a teammate without getting a traveling call. The Thatcher senior contributed 12 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, three steals, three blocks, and a lone turnover while playing the entire 32 minutes of the championship game. She was named second-team all-conference (all-state)

The final 2A (50 teams) rankings for region members were Bisbee No. 2 (16-1 seeding, 28-3overall), Thatcher No. 3 (16-2, 28-4), Pima No. 8 (14-5, 21-9), Benson No. 14 (9-8, 15-12), Morenci No. 19 (7-9, 14-14), Tombstone No. 28 (5-13, 8-19), and Willcox No. 35 (1-15, 5-19).

In the region tourney, second seed Thatcher downed seventh seed Willcox 64-23 during the first round, third seed Pima 59-32 during the semifinals, and top seed Bisbee 49-48 for the tourney title.

Bisbee stopped Benson 47-32 during the semifinals and drew a first-round bye. Third seed Pima bested sixth seed Tombstone 55-17 and fourth seed Benson defeated fifth seed Morenci 36-31 during the first round.

Final East Region standings were Bisbee first with an 11-1 mark, Thatcher second (11-1), Pima third (8-4), Benson fourth (6-6), Morenci fifth (4-8), Tombstone sixth (2-10), and Willcox seventh (0-12).

Bisbee topped Pima twice, 60-55 (Dec. 3) and 47-46 (Jan. 24); Willcox twice, 47-28 (Dec. 5) and 69-20 (Feb. 4); Thatcher 44-34 (Dec. 10); Benson twice, 44-34 (Dec. 13) and 53-35 (Jan. 21); Morenci twice, 51-45 (Dec. 20) and 61-44 (Feb. 1); and Tombstone twice, 58-21 (Jan. 7) and 63-18 (Jan. 31).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: First-year Miami head coach Freddy Rios accepted the A.I.A.’s Sportsmanship Award for 2A Girls Basketball. The award was voted on by officials and presented during halftime of the title game by AIA Assistant Commissioner of Officials Jeanie Kosower.

Thatcher defeated Willcox twice, 48-33 (Dec. 6) and 71-17 (Jan. 24); Morenci twice, 50-45 (Jan. 7) and 57-28 (Jan. 31); Benson twice, 43-24 (Jan. 9) and 53-35 (Jan. 21); Pima twice, 34-30 (Jan. 14) and 47-46 (Jan. 24); Bisbee 51-45 (Jan. 17), and Tombstone twice, 60-6 (Jan. 21) and 53-27 (Feb. 7).

Pima’s region wins are over Benson twice, 55-29 (Dec. 10) and 46-25 (Jan. 17); over Morenci twice, 58-32 (Dec. 5) and 58-39 (Jan. 21); over Tombstone twice, 64-14 (Dec. 20) and 51-29 (Jan. 28); and Willcox twice, 58-10 (Jan. 29) and 53-18 (Jan. 31).

Benson’s wins are over Tombstone twice, 62-21 (Dec. 17) and 55-20 (Jan. 24); over Willcox twice, 55-20 (Dec. 20) and 53-8 (Jan. 28); and over Morenci twice, 44-34 (Jan. 14) and 33-25 (Feb. 6). Morenci’s wins were over Willcox twice, 64-59 (Dec. 10) and 55-21 (Jan. 16), and over Tombstone twice, 52-40 (Jan. 10) and 52-34 (Feb. 4). Tombstone’s wins were over Willcox twice, 30-26 (Jan. 14) and 29-28 (Feb. 6).

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