Morenci boys pull away from Cowboys in third quarter

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior spirit line members Angelique Martinez, Jasmine Altamirano, and Briana Rodriguez cheer for Morenci. The trio was part of the 12-member squad on hand in Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium on Feb. 4. Morenci dispatched South Region Willcox 56-25 Thursday and travels to Pima for an East Region pairing Friday, Feb. 5.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior starter Nicolas Hammond drilled a 3-pointer with 2:06 left in the opening period. It gave Morenci its third lead of the game, a 7-6 advantage and the lead for good.

MORENCI – The Ruben Leonard-coached Morenci boys basketball team downed the visiting Willcox Cowboys 56-25 Feb. 4.

Morenci (3-2 overall, 1-1 region), averaging a 52-47 (259-233) score per game or a 5-point margin, visits the Pima Roughriders (4-1, 1-0) for a region counter Friday, Feb. 5. The other region contest is Miami at Saint Johns.

The Wildcats also have wins of 52-48 over Phoenix Country Day School (Jan. 23) and 68-50 over Eagar Round Valley (Jan. 27). The losses were 43-53 to Saint Johns (Jan. 29) and 40-55 to Show Low (Jan. 30).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Joseph Seballos makes his initial two free throws in a varsity game. The Morenci Class of 2024 member finished with 5 points on the night.

Pima has averaged a score of 69-51 (345-255) per game or an 18-point margin. The Roughriders topped Globe 81-46 (Jan. 19), Benson 80-47 (Jan. 22), Thatcher 59-53 (Jan. 28), and Miami 77-56 (Feb. 2). The loss was 48-53 to Saint David (Jan. 29).

Other games for region members are Round Valley at Show Low Feb. 5 and Thatcher at Saint Johns Feb. 6.

East Region pairings Feb. 2 resulted in wins of 48-40 for Saint Johns (4-1, 2-0) over Round Valley (1-4, 0-2) and 77-56 for Pima over Miami (2-2, 0-1).

Through five games, Morenci has a higher free throw percentage than its opponents, 60 (54-90) versus 54 (37-68). Senior Jordan Reyes has a percentage of 100 (1-1), senior Steven Shawn Michael Chavez Jr. 75 (21-28), freshman Tristan Sanchez 67 (2-3), junior Christian Mpoyo 60 (12-20), senior Maddux Martinez 50 (12-24), freshman Joseph Seballos 50 (2-4), senior Nicolas Hammond 40 (2-5), sophomore Derek Saenz 25 (1-4), and senior Torman Lang 0-1.

Wildcats – 56, Cowboys – 25

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Jordan Reyes goes up for a high percentage first-half shot attempt. The Morenci senior reserve contributed 4 points.

Willcox came back to tie the score twice, 2-2 and 4-4, and took its only lead of the game with 3:32 left in the opening period.

However, a Hammond 3-pointer 1:26 later gave Morenci a 7-6 advantage and the lead for good. A 27-5 third period outing gave the host a commanding lead and reserves received considerable court time.

The Wildcats led 9-6 heading into the second period, 16-11 at halftime, and 43-16 at the start of the fourth period.

Willcox pared its initial double-digit deficit (23-13) with 5:13 left in the third period but did not add another field goal until midway through the fourth period. A free throw broke a 13-4 Morenci run.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci junior Christian Mpoyo zeros in on one of five field goals scored against Willcox. He totaled 13 points and was one of three Wildcats contributing double-digit scoring.

The Wildcats went on a 24-0 run to expand their 29-16 mid-third period advantage to 53-16 over an eight-minute stretch.

For the game, the Wildcats made 23 field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 7-12 free throws compared to 11 field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 2-6 free throws by the Cowboys.

Martinez totaled 14 points on six field goals plus 2-4 free throws, Mpoyo 13 on five field goals plus 3-4 free throws, and Chavez 10 on five field goals. Saenz and Seballos added 5 points apiece, Reyes 4, Hammond 3, and Lang 2.

Six Cowboys scored, but none in double figures. Senior JJ Lunt had 6 points, sophomore Ayden Fuentes 5, senior Cael DeBaun, and sophomore Joendy Ruiz 4 apiece, and both seniors Issac Felix and JT Garza had 3 each.

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