Morenci boys improving with more court time, tangle with Coyotes in initial pairing at Copper Cities Tourney on Dec. 27

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Maddux Martinez takes a shot against Duncan during a tourney game Dec. 18. The Morenci junior leads the team in scoring (15 points per game) and best free throw percentage (78). He has averaged double-digit scoring in six of eight games. The 2-6 Wildcats are in Globe for their second tourney, facing Combs at High Desert Middle School on Dec. 27.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – “We’re young and it showed,” 14th-year Morenci boys’ head coach Tommy Navarrete said. “We had too many turnovers.”

His comments came following the season-opening 58-45 non-region home win over the Kearny Ray Bearcats on Nov. 26. Since then, the Wildcats have dropped six of their next seven games, three in region play.

Morenci succumbed 44-55 to Pima (Dec. 2), 58-64 to Willcox (Dec. 10), and 66-70 to Bisbee (Dec. 20) in region play.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci Head Coach Tommy Navarrete checks the scoreboard before going over strategy during a timeout.

A 57-60 loss to New Mexico Silver High (Dec. 12) was also posted and the Wildcats went 1-2 during the three-day 57th annual Eastern Arizona Holiday Tourney. Morenci fell 42-61 to Safford in the first round (Dec. 16) and 40-43 to Duncan in the 5th Place game (Dec. 18). The win was 51-44 over Willcox during the consolation round (Dec. 17).

Through eight games, the Wildcats are being outscored by an average of 52-55 (415-440) per game or by a 3-point deficit. Junior Maddux Martinez is averaging 15 (120) points per game, sophomore Christian Mpoyo 10.6 (85), and senior Dominik Waters 9.3 (75). Martinez has contributed double-digit scoring in six of eight games and both Mpoyo and Waters in four.

Morenci’s free throw percentage is 57 (59-104) compared to 64 (74-116) for its combined opponents.

Individually, Martinez has a percentage of 78 (18-23), freshman Derek Saenz 67 (2-3), junior Steven Shawn Michael Chavez Jr. 52 (11-21), Mpoyo 50 (16-32), junior Jeremiah Rojas 50 (1-2), Waters 46 (6-13), and junior Nicolas Hammond 33 (2-6).

Current 2A East Region standings have Pima (10-2 overall, 5-0 seeding, 4-0 region) first, Thatcher (11-4, 3-2, 2-0) second, Benson (5-3, 3-2, 3-1) third, Bisbee (3-8, 2-5, 2-3) fourth, Willcox (2-9, 1-3, 1-3) fifth, Tombstone (0-6, 0-4, 0-2) sixth, and Morenci (2-6, 1-4, 0-3) seventh.

Morenci heads to Globe for the two-day, 11-team 39th annual Copper Cities Tourney amidst a weather advisory Dec. 27. The games will be held at Globe High School, 437 S. High Street and at High Desert Middle School gymnasium, 4000 High Desert Drive. Each of the participating teams will also play two games on Saturday.

The height-challenged Wildcats are paired with the San Tan Valley Combs Coyotes at 12:30 p.m. and the Scottsdale Prep Spartans at 5 p.m. in the middle school gymnasium.

Cibecue, Globe, Lakeside Blue Ridge, Miami, Saint Johns, Tombstone, Winkelman Hayden, and California Winterhaven San Pasqual are also scheduled to participate.

The next contest for the other region members is, for Benson, with Florence at the White Mountain Holiday Classic on Jan. 2; for Thatcher, with Chandler Valley Christian on Jan. 4; for Bisbee, with Tombstone on Jan. 7; and for Pima, with Show Low on Jan. 7.

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