Morenci boys go 2-2 in Globe tourney, host Thatcher for region contest January 7

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Steven Shawn Michael Chavez Jr. looks for an opening on his left during a recent outing. The Morenci junior redirected his attention after noticing his right side was well defended. Morenci (4-8 overall) hosts Thatcher (9-5) for a region contest Tuesday, Jan. 7.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – The Tommy Navarrete-coached Wildcats return from their holiday break to host the Thatcher Eagles for a region contest Jan. 7. Tip-off in Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium is 7 p.m.

The Eagles are 7-6 versus the Wildcats during the most recent five seasons (2014/15 – 2018/19). However, Morenci is 3-1 in Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium during the last four pairings with Thatcher, with wins of 59-51 (Dec. 2, 2014), 76-65 (Jan. 6, 2017), and 59-44 (Jan. 30, 2018). The loss was 69-72 (Jan. 26, 2019).

Thatcher (9-5 overall, 3-3 seeding, 2-0 region) fell 46-63 to Chandler Valley Christian in the Eagle’s Nest on Jan. 4. The Eagles’ wins this season have been 74-55 over Chino Valley (Dec. 5), 74-22 over Cicero Prep (Dec. 6), 58-54 over Chandler Prep (Dec. 7), 79-54 over Bisbee (Dec. 10), 59-28 over Willcox (Dec. 11), 66-28 over Duncan (Dec. 16), 56-49 in overtime over Pima (Dec. 17), 60-50 over Fort Thomas (Dec. 18), and 44-28 over Tucson Pusch Ridge Christian (Dec. 19). The losses have been 61-63 to Safford (Dec. 4), 37-49 to Page (Dec. 6), 54-56 to Tuba City (Dec. 6), 37-78 to Florence (Dec. 12), and to Valley Christian.

Under first-year head coach Bobby Martindell, the Eagles are averaging a 58-48 (805-673) score per game or a 10-point margin through 14 games. Junior Micheal Greer (10.8 points per game), seniors Spencer Stevens (10.0) and Collin Thompson (10.0), and freshmen Brandon Napier (8.8) and Bradley Curtis (7.0) are the leading scorers on the team, during 10 of 14 games played, according to statistics available on Max Preps. Numbers for games with Tuba City, Chandler Prep, Florence, and Valley Christian were unavailable as of Jan. 5.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci freshman Derek Saenz is one of two Wildcats shooting free throws at 75 percent.

Morenci (4-8, 1-4, 0-3) last played Dec. 28, going 2-2 in the 2-day, 11-team, Globe-held 39th Copper Cities Tourney. The Wildcats succumbed twice, 26-64 to San Tan Valley Combs and 57-68 to Scottsdale Prep on Dec. 27. The wins were 63-53 over California Winterhaven San Pasqual Valley and 38-36 over Saint Johns on Dec. 28.

Through a dozen games, the Wildcats are being outscored by an average of 50-55 (599-661) per game or by a 5-point deficit. Junior Maddux Martinez is averaging 14.2 (170) points per game, sophomore Christian Mpoyo 11.0 (132), senior Dominik Waters 9.8 (117), junior Steven Shawn Michael Chavez Jr. 7.0 (90), and freshman Derek Saenz 2.4 (34). Martinez has contributed double-digit scoring in nine of 12 games played, both Mpoyo and Waters in six, Chavez in three, and Saenz in one.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci senior Dominick Waters drives to the basket with Duncan senior Cliff Hansen on his heels. Duncan slipped past Morenci as both players scored four points at EAC on Dec. 18.

Morenci’s free throw percentage is 58 (83-146) compared to 64 (93-146) for its combined opponents.

Individually, junior Torman Lang and Saenz both have a percentage of 75 (3-4), Martinez 71 (22-31), Chavez 58 (19-33), Waters 53 (9-17), junior Jeremiah Rojas 50 (1-2), Mpoyo 49 (21-43), junior Nicolas Hammond 33 (2-6), and freshman Daylen Johnson 0-2.

Morenci’s other two wins have been 58-45 over Kearny Ray (Nov. 26) and 51-44 over Willcox (Dec. 17). The other losses have been 43-55 to Pima (Dec. 2), 58-62 to Willcox (Dec. 10), 57-60 to New Mexico Silver (Dec. 12), 42-61 to Safford (Dec. 16), and 40-43 to Duncan (Dec. 18).

As of Jan.5, Pima (4-0 region) sits atop the 2A East Region, followed by Thatcher (2-0), Benson (3-1), Bisbee (2-3), Willcox (1-3), Tombstone (0-2), and Morenci (0-3).

Other region pairings this week include Tombstone at Bisbee on Jan. 7; Benson at Thatcher on Thursday, Jan. 9; and Tombstone at Morenci on Friday, Jan. 10.

In other local boy’s hoop action:

Safford (0-3 conference, 4-9 overall) fell 40-48 on Friday to the Valley Christian Trojans. The Trojans stayed the night and then beat Thatcher (2-0 conference, 9-5 overall) 63-46 on Saturday.

Safford will next play at Thacher on Jan. 10.

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