Morenci girls bound for No. 11 Pima on Tuesday, and No. 4. Phoenix Country Day on Friday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci starters Brigid Silvester, Zenayah Cortez, and Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar re-act to on-court play. Reserves contributed a third of the scoring for Morenci against Willcox Jan. 16. The Cowgirls left Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium with a region loss.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – The Albert Ortega-coached Wildcats are 8-3 so far this month following a 2-4 December mark. It includes going 5-1 in the two-day 39th annual Copper Cities Tourney for a first place finish Jan. 4.

Two home region games played following the holiday break were a 45-50 loss to Thatcher on Jan. 7 and a 52-40 win over Tombstone on Jan, 10.

Last week, Morenci fell 34-44 to the Bobcats in Benson on Jan. 14, and downed the Willcox Cowgirls 55-21 in Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium on Jan. 16 plus The Gregory School 43-21 in Tucson on Jan. 17.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Hannah Silvester recovers a loose ball and dribbles out of the corner along the baseline. The Morenci freshman added two points to the team total.

The No. 18 Wildcats (11-7 overall, 5-4 seeding, 1.5079 rating, 3-4 East Region) head to No. 11 Pima (12-5, 7-3, 6.2650, 4-2 region) on Tuesday, Jan. 21 and No. 4 Phoenix Country Day School (16-5, 10-1, 10.1422, 2-0 Metro Region) on Friday, Jan. 24.

Five other region pairings are also on tap this week, Benson at Bisbee and Thatcher at Tombstone on Jan. 21, and Bisbee at Pima, Tombstone at Benson, and Willcox at Thatcher on Jan. 24.

As of Jan.19, Bisbee (6-1 region) leads the 2A East Region, followed by Thatcher (5-1), Pima (4-2), Benson (3-4), Morenci (3-4), Tombstone (1-4), and Willcox (0-6).

Rankings for region members as of Jan. 17 were Bisbee No. 2 (9-1 seeding, 16.2559 rating) of 50 2A teams, Thatcher No. 5 (8-2, 9.9996), Pima No. 11 (7-3, 8.0453), Benson No. 16 (5-5, 3.3841), Morenci No. 18 (5-4, 1.5079), Tombstone No. 27 (3-7, minus 3.4622), and Willcox No. 32 (1-8, minus 6.7405).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Official Bobby Gomez signals the infraction to the scorers’ table following a call.

Bisbee defeated Pima 60-55 (Dec. 3), Willcox 47-28 (Dec. 5), Thatcher 44-34 (Dec. 10), Benson 44-34 (Dec. 13), Morenci 51-45 (Dec. 20), and Tombstone 58-21 (Jan. 7).

Thatcher downed Willcox 48-33 (Dec. 6), Morenci 50-45 (Jan. 7), Benson 43-24 (Jan. 9), Pima 34-30 (Jan. 14), and Bisbee 51-45 (Jan. 17).

Pima’s wins are over Benson twice, 55-29 (Dec. 10) and 46-25 (Jan. 17), 58-32 over Morenci (Dec. 5), and64-14 over Tombstone (Dec. 20); Benson’s wins are 62-21 over Tombstone (Dec. 17), 55-20 over Willcox (Dec. 20), and 44-34 over Morenci (Jan. 14); Morenci’s wins are over Willcox twice, 64-59 (Dec. 10) and 55-21 (Jan. 16), and 52-40 over Tombstone (Jan. 10); and Tombstone’s win is 30-26 over Willcox (Jan. 14).

East Region games remaining total 14, seven each in the next two weeks. The week of Jan. 27-Feb. 1 has Benson at Willcox and Tombstone at Pima on Jan. 28; Willcox at Pima on Jan. 29; Bisbee at Tombstone, Morenci at Thatcher, and Pima at Willcox on Jan. 31; and Bisbee at Morenci on Feb. 1.

The week of Feb. 3-8 has Morenci at Tombstone, Thatcher at Benson, and Willcox at Bisbee on Feb. 4; Benson at Morenci, Pima at Thatcher, and Tombstone at Willcox on Feb. 6; and Tombstone at Thatcher on Feb. 7.

The region tourney begins Feb. 10.

Through 18 games, the Wildcats have averaged a 41-36 (738-649) score per game or a 5-point margin.

Morenci – 55Willcox – 21

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci freshmen Mia Ontiveros (4) and Kellee O’Connell (32) double-team the Willcox ball handler.

Willcox outscored Morenci 9-2 in the fourth period, but it was not enough to overcome the 41-point, 12-53 three periods deficit.

The Wildcats led 7-0 before the visiting Cowgirls lit up their side of the scoreboard. Senior Jordyn Rinehart made 1-2 free throws with 4:44 elapsed in the opening period. Morenci senior Brigid Silvester connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to give the hosts a double-digit advantage a minute later.

Willcox trailed by 15, 1-16 before adding its initial field goal with 1:52 left in the opening period, and by 27, 8-35 before reaching double figures with 1:04 left in the first half.

The Wildcats went on a 16-0 run before the Cowgirls added a Maycee Michaels field goal with 17 seconds left in the third period.

Morenci totaled 21 field goals (four 3-pointers) plus 9-21 free throws versus seven field goals plus 7-14 free throws by Willcox. 

Nine of 15 Wildcats contributed to the scoring total. Junior Zenayah Cortez netted 10 points on three field goals plus 4-7 free throws. Junior Destanee Marquez and sophomore Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar added nine points apiece, sophomore Devanie Medina and Silvester seven, senior Sarina Robledo sex, freshman Delicia Roybal four, freshman Hannah Silvester two, and senior Desiree Babb one.

For Willcox, sophomore Alyssa Rodgers had six points, Michaels four, sophomore Kamrielle Wyatt and  freshman Izela Torres three apiece, senior Tapanga Alexander and junior Ana Barajas two each, and senior Alma Barajas one.

Morenci – 38Benson – 31

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci senior Reona Alvarez is denied a shot attempt by Willcox junior Malia Rogers.

The Wildcats outscored their hosts 20-16 in the second half, but it was too little to overcome the 14-point, 13-27 first-half deficit.

On the night, Morenci totaled 12 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 7-11 free throws compared to 15 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 11-22 free throws by Benson.

Marquez tallied 12 points on four field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 2-4 free throws and Aguilar 11 on four field goals plus 3-3 free throws. Medina added four points, and Babb and freshman Mia Ontiveros three each.

For Benson, junior Emily Darwin had 14 points on five field goals plus 4-10 free throws and sophomore Shaylin Taylor 11 on four field goals plus 3-4 free throws. Junior Jennifer Barker added eight points, freshman Celina Wilharm four, and freshman Ally Crouse, junior Taylor Fenn, and junior Paige Vaughn two each.

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