Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Top seed Fort Thomas emerged from the region tourney as champions, downing Kearny Ray 69-40 in the semifinals and Arete Prep 48-33 for the title. Members of the team are, not in order, Deja Begay, Trinette Begay, Shylenna Duane, Kyia Haws, Hailey Hinton, Jordan Juan, Mariyah Kniffin, Kenia McCabe, Layla Nelson, Kaylei Preston, Chase Stanley, Vivianna Talgo, Angel Wright, assistant coach Derrick Bryce, and head coach Lee Haws.
By Raymundo Frasquillo
FORT THOMAS – Trailing 29-33 after three quarters, top seed Fort Thomas came back in the fourth quarter to surpass second seed Gilbert Arete Prep and prevail 48-33 Feb. 7.
“We switched our defensive rotations and forced different players to take on roles they weren’t used to,” Fort Thomas head coach Lee Haws said.
The result, the Apaches scored 19 unanswered points in the final eight minutes to claim the 1A East Region Tourney title in Jerry Hancock Gymnasium.
“They got a big lead on us in the first half with 3-pointers,” he said. The Apaches did the same in the fourth quarter.
Junior Kyia Haws’ inside field goal with 22 seconds elapsed plus sophomore Chase Stanley’s 3-pointer 24 seconds later lifted the Apaches 34-33 over the Chargers. Seniors Jordan Juan and Vivianna Talgo drilled a pair of 3-pointers to give the white jersey-clad girls a 40-33 advantage with 2:38 remaining.
A pair of Juan field goals with 1:53 and 1:39 left, a Haws field goal with 54 seconds left, and a Talgo field goal with 27 seconds left, accounted for the Apaches’ fourth-quarter scoring.
Arete Prep led 25-20 at halftime on a 21-8 second quarter outing. Junior Sara Tollen had nine points on three 3-pointers, sophomores Mariah Dominguez and Alissa Kassebaum five points apiece, and senior Daniela Iniguez two. Fort Thomas led 12-4 following the first quarter.
The Apaches totaled 20 field goals (five 3-pointers) plus 3-9 free throws compared to 13 field goals (four 3-pointers) plus 3-5 free throws by the Chargers.
Stanley tallied 13 points on six field goals (one 3-pointer). Haws added nine points, Juan eight, sophomore Hailey Hinton seven, senior Angel Wright five, and both senior Layla Nelson and Talgo three apiece.
For the Chargers, Tollen and Kassebaum both had nine points, Dominguez seven, senior Hannah Hollow four, and both Iniguez and freshman Rachel Garver two each.
“I’m glad we learned something from it and it was not a blowout,” Coach Haws said.
“I’m glad we competed and gave you a game,” Arete Prep head coach Jake Howell countered.
Fort Thomas eliminated Kearny Ray 69-40 and Arete Prep ousted Cibecue 36-29 during the tourney semifinals Feb. 4.
The top 16 teams will make up the state tourney field. A play-in round at the higher seed is on Saturday, Feb. 15. The eight winners meet for the quarterfinals on Feb. 21 in the Prescott area, with semifinals on Feb. 22 and the championship on Feb. 22.
East Region member rankings of 35 1A teams as of Feb. 7 were Fort Thomas No. 7 (15-4 seeding), Arete Prep No. 11 (14-5), Kearny Ray No. 14 (9-7), Cibecue No. 15 (9-7), Duncan 20 (8-10), Winkelman Hayden No. 21 (8-8), NFL Yet No. 30 (2-16), and Superior No. 35 (0-15).
The Apaches were the top seed to the region tourney with a 7-0 region record, Arete Prep second (6-1), Cibecue third (5-2), Ray fourth (4-3), Duncan fifth (3-4), Winkelman Hayden sixth (2-5), Phoenix NFL Yet seventh (1-6), and Superior eighth (0-7).
1A East All-Region
All-region honorees were announced following the championship game. The First Team included Fort Thomas sophomore Chase Stanley, Arete Prep sophomores Mariah Dominguez and Alissa Kassebaum, Cibecue senior Heather Machuse, Ray junior Marissa Baragan, and Duncan junior Melissa Claridge.
Second Team members had Fort Thomas sophomore Hailey Hinton, Arete Prep senior Hannah Howell, Cibecue senior Chana Williams, Duncan senior Kaktys Garcia, and Hayden seniors Clarissa Gonzalez and Juliana Hong.
Given Honorable Mention were Fort Thomas seniors Jordan Juan and Angel Wright, Arete Prep freshman Hanna Tollen, Cibecue senior Gabriella Askan, and Ray senior Emily Rutter and junior Emma Stuart.
The Offensive Player of the Year was Hayden junior Sarah Perez, the Defensive Player of the Year Fort Thomas junior Kyia Haws, and Player of the Year / Most Valuable Player Fort Thomas senior Vivianna Talgo.
The Region Coach of the Year was Helene Martinez of Hayden.