Kats fall seven slots in rankings after five losses in six games

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Duncan sophomore Tommy Hille goes up for one of his team-high 11 field goals against John McGowen. However, the NFL Yet Eagles left Duncan with a 49-47 region win Jan. 16.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

DUNCAN – The Duncan Wildkats have won one of six games, dropping seven slots from sixth to 13th in the rankings during the past month, since falling 64-41 to top-ranked Cibecue in Greenlee County on Dec. 21.

In January region pairings, the Wildkats fell 70-52 to Fort Thomas in Duncan on Jan. 8, 71-49 to Arete Prep in Gilbert on Jan. 11, 49-47 to Phoenix NFL Yet in Duncan on Jan. 16, and 52-40 to Ray in Kearny on Jan. 19. The lone win was 69-36 over Winkelman Hayden in Duncan on Jan. 15.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Six-foot Duncan sophomore guard Jarrett French looks for an open teammate as diminutive defender Alejandro Ruiz applies pressure.

Of 39 1A teams, the Wildkats (7-7 seeding, minus 3.3252 rating, 2-5 East Region for No. 7) are above No. 31 Hayden (1-13, minus 15. 0307, 0-6 region for No. 8) and No. 36 North Phoenix Prep (1-14, minus 17.5222, 0-7 region for No. 9) in region standings as the teams wind down the last three weeks of the regular season.

The standings of other East Region members are No. 2 Fort Thomas (12-2, 7.1746, 5-0 region for No. 1), No. 5 Cibecue (7-4, 2.9950, 5-3 region for No. 5), No. 6 Arete Prep (7-7, 2.8223, 5-0 region for No. 2), No. 7 Ray (11-4, 2.4163, 6-1 region for No. 3), No. 8 Superior (7-6, minus 0.1073, 3-2 region for No. 4), and No. 15 NFL Yet (4-8, minus 4.9717, 3-3 region for No. 6), as of Monday morning, Jan. 21.

The Wildkats averaged a score of 47-42 (948-847) or a margin of five points through 20 games.

Excluding the Jan. 19 game at Ray, the Wildkats had a combined free throw shooting percentage of 53 (173-327) compared to 63 (205-328) for their opponents in 19 games.

Individually, sophomore Jarrett French had a percentage of 83 (19-23), freshman Conlon Jensen 75 (3-4),  junior Chris Smith 65 (22-34), senior Wesley Conyer 61 (11-18), junior Lucas Basteen 59 (24-41), junior Cliff Hansen 55 (22-40), senior Jay Garner 50 (1-2), sophomore Tommy Hille 47 (44-94), senior Michael Lennon 41 (11-27), sophomore Nathan Kempton 41 (7-17), junior Steven Pierpont 30 (7-23), and Austin Bigler 0-2.

Senior Weston Skinner and freshman Gabriel Roybal had not attempted any free throws.

The Wildkats visited Patagonia on Jan. 21, host Superior on Tuesday, Jan. 22 and Elfrida Valley Union on Thursday, Jan. 24, visit Bowie / San Simon on Feb. 4 and welcome Ray on Feb. 7. The region tourney is at Fort Thomas on Jan. 29.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Sophomore Nathan Kempton contributed a third period field goal against the Eagles.

NFL Yet – 49, Duncan – 47

The score was deadlocked 39-39 heading into the final eight minutes of play, and 47-47 with 3:40 remaining.

Each team missed three field goals attempts before Kristopher Floyd put the Eagles ahead by one, making 1-2 free throws with 1:22 left to play. He missed the front end of a one plus one award 23 seconds later and again 25 seconds after that to keep the score unchanged with 34 seconds left.

Duncan’s Cliff Hansen drew Tecle Smith’s fifth foul with 30 seconds remaining and was right of center on the front end of a one plus one attempt, Floyd rebounded, teammate Alejandro Ruiz dribbled the clock down, and Floyd got another chance at making free throws. He missed the first and made the second to put the Eagles ahead by two with four seconds left.

Duncan called a time out, set up the tying play, but ran out of time before a shot was taken.

“We should have won it,” Duncan head coach Eldon Merrell said. “It shouldn’t have come down to that.”

Although a 3-pointer with 1:26 elapsed in the game gave the hosts the initial lead, it would be their biggest one of the first half. The Eagles led by eight, 28-20, with 48 seconds left in the half, but took a 28-22 advantage into the midway break.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Duncan junior Cliff Hansen zeros in on a high percentage shot against an NFL Yet Eagle defender. Hansen scored five third-period points.

The Wildkats broke a 30-30 early third period tie and were tied at 32-32 24 seconds later. Duncan pulled ahead by six, 36-30, with 3:04 left in the period, but the visitors came back to tie at 39-39 with 20 seconds left.

Duncan tied it at 41-41 22 seconds into the fourth period before the Eagles took a 6-point lead, 41-48, with 5:46 remaining. The hosts were outscored 8-6 the rest of the way.

The Wildkats totaled 19 field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 6-15 free throws versus 18 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 11-22 free throws by the Eagles.

Hille had the hot hand for the Wildkats, dropping in 24 points on 11 field goals plus 2-6 free throws. Smith added seven points, Hansen five, Conyer four, French three and both Basteen and Kempton two each.

Floyd tallied a game-high 27 points for the Eagles, netting 11 field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 4-12 free throws and John McGowen 14 on five field goals plus 4-6 free throws. Kevantre Cushenberg and Ruiz both added three points and Smith two.

Duncan – 69, Hayden – 36

Duncan had double-digit scoring in the first three periods, leading 19-8 after the first, 34-15 at halftime, and 61-26 heading into the fourth.

The Wildkats totaled 27 field goals (seven 3-pointers) plus 8-18 free throws compared to 15 field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 3-16 free throws by the Lobos.

Conyer had 15 points on seven field goals (one 3-pointer), Smith 14 on five field goals (four 3-pointers), and Hille 11 on five field goals plus 1-7 free throws. French and Hansen both added eight points, Basteen seven, Kempton four, and Jensen two.

The Lobos got 19 points from A.J. Castillo on eight field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 0-6 free throws. Javier Lopez added five points, Adriano Cruz and Bobby Mandriquez four apiece, and both Gibby Carmelo and Adrean Estrada two each.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Duncan spirit line members, sophomore Wyatt Skinner, left, junior Domanique Giacoletti, middle, and freshman Ella Jernigan, right, anchor freshman flyer Lisa Edwards, top, during a game break.

Arete Prep – 71, Duncan – 49

The visiting Wildkats led 13-11 following the opening period, but an 11-25 second period outing to trail 36-24 at halftime and playing catch up during the rest of the game. The hosts had a 35-25 second half effort.

Duncan totaled 17 field goals (five 3-pointers) plus 10-19 free throws versus 21 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 27-33 free throws by the Chargers.

Smith netted 15 points on five field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 2-2 free throws. Basteen added eight points, Hansen and Hille seven apiece, and both Conyer and French six each.

For the Chargers, Eric Baker had 29 points on eight field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 12-14 free throws, Joey Patrick 22 on six field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 9-9 free throws, and Toni Atologbi 10 on four field goals plus 2-2 free throws. Sean Baker added seven points, Brandon Fish two, and Andrew Mourad one.

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