Morenci girls pull away early during play-in round

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior Devanie Medina (14) and junior Mia Ontiveros (13) pressure Glendale Prep freshman ball handler Maggie Hawkins. Morenci advanced to the state tourney with a 66-18 win. The No. 10 Wildcats face No. 7 Phoenix Valley Lutheran on Friday, Feb. 18 at Prescott Valley Bradshaw Mountain High School for a 4 p.m. start.

Wildcats earn No. 10 slot, face No. 7 Valley Lutheran in state tourney

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – The Albert Ortega-coached No. 10 Morenci Wildcats ended the No. 23 Glendale Prep Griffins season with a 66-18 play-in round loss on Feb. 15.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar tries to retrieve a loose ball.

The next round pairing has No. 7 Phoenix Valley Lutheran (23-4 overall, 15-3, 11.3982, 10-2 Central Region for 2nd) meeting Morenci (18-6, 12-4, 5.9122, 8-2 East Region for 2nd) at 3 p.m. on the Bradshaw Mountain campus Friday, Feb. 18.

Morenci is averaging a 54-43 (1,247-995) score per game or an 11-point margin while Valley Lutheran has a 48-27 (1,289-734) score per game or 21-point margin through 27 games.

Morenci – 66, Glendale Prep – 18

Glendale Prep started two juniors and three freshmen while Morenci started five seniors and the experience level difference played a big role in the outcome. Numerous high percentage shot attempts for the host Wildcats resulted from opponent turnovers. The entire Morenci roster received court time, with four members contributing double-digit scoring.

Morenci controlled the tip, scored a field goal with no time elapsed on the clock, and never trailed thereafter. The Wildcats added 2-2 free throws in the opening 1:50 to go up 4-0.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci senior Delicia Roybal cornered Glendale Prep senior Aarushi Parikh and prevented a long, down-court pass.

Glendale Prep made 1-2 free throws to light up its side of the scoreboard eight seconds later. Morenci added another field goal 28 seconds after that and the Griffins made their initial field goal with 3:03 elapsed in the game, trailing 3-6, but it would get no closer during the remainder of the game.

Morenci led 16-3 before the visitors connected on a pair of free throws with 1:06 left in the period, and 19-5 before a second field goal, a 3-pointer, was scored 30 seconds later.

The Wildcats had a 19-8 advantage heading into the second period and were ahead 38-14 at halftime and 55-18 at the start of the final period. A running clock was used during the final eight minutes.

Morenci made 29 field goals (four 3-pointers) plus 4-4 free throws compared to seven field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 3-11 free throws for Glendale Prep.

Senior Zenayah Cortez tallied a game-high 20 points on eight field goals plus 4-4 free throws, junior Mia Ontiveros 12 on five field goals (two 3-pointers), senior Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar 10 on five field goals, and senior Devanie Medina 10 on five field goals. Chee and Leonard added four apiece, and both Roybal and Young each three.

For the Griffins, freshman Senna Smith had seven points, junior Maddie Caspers five, senior Aarushi Parikh four, and junior Abbe Fleming two.

The visitors had a 32-40 (682-835) average score per game or an 8-point deficit through 21 games but left Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium with a 48-point season-ending loss, and a long ride home.

State tourney pairings

The first two rounds are in the Prescott area on Feb. 18-19. The semifinals and final are in the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 25 and Feb. 26, respectively.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci seniors Zenayah Cortez, left, and Karyme Young, right, double team Glendale Prep freshman Senna Smith.

In the upper bracket, No. 16 Phoenix Horizon Honors (11-5 seeding, 1.3704 rating, 6-1 Valley Region for 2nd) versus No. 1 Pima (18-0, 24.8846, 10-0) at Bradshaw Mountain for a 3 p.m. start, No. 9 Scottsdale Christian (12-4, 9.3629, 4-1 Metro Region for 2nd) vs. No. 8 San Carlos (13-5, 9.8172, 8-1 South Region for 2nd) at Findlay Toyota Center for a 6 p.m. start, No. 12 Arizona Lutheran (14-4, 7.1660, 8-2 West Region for 2nd) vs. No. 5 Phoenix Country Day (15-2, 13.6701, 5-0 Metro Region for 1st) at Yavapai Community College for a 6:30 p.m. start, and No. 13 Bisbee (9-6, 5.1654, 5-5) vs. No. 4 Saint Johns (15-1, 13.9237, 11-0 North Region for 1st) at Prescott for a 4:30 p.m. start.

The lower bracket has No. 14 Sanders Valley (10-5, 4.6169, 9-3 North Region for 2nd) vs. No. 3 Avondale Saint John Paul II Catholic (18-0, 20.1898, 10-0 West Region for 1st) at Findlay Toyota Center for a 3 p.m. start, No. 11 Gilbert Arete Prep (14-2, 8.4769, 7-0 Valley Region for 1st) vs. No. 6 Miami (18-1, 12.8204, 9-1 South Region for 1st) at Bradshaw Mountain for a 4:30 p.m. start, No. 10 Morenci (12-4, 5.9122, 8-2 East Region for 2nd) vs. No. 7 Phoenix Valley Lutheran (15-3, 11.3982, 10-2 Central Region for 2nd) at Bradshaw Mountain for a 3 p.m. start, and No. 15 Eagar Round Valley (7-8, 1.5903, 6-4 North Region for 4th) vs. No. 2 Sedona Red Rock (17-0, 21.2727, 10-0 Central Region for 1st) at Prescott for a 7:30 p.m. start.

Play-in Round Results

Six of the eight play-in games were won by the higher seeds, No. 9 Scottsdale Christian 72-17 over No. 24 Phoenix Madison Highland (10-5, minus 2.0595, independent), No. 10 Morenci 66-18 over No. 23 Glendale Prep (8-9, minus 1.6846, 7-5 Central Region for 3rd), No. 11 Gilbert Arete Prep 53-21 over No. 22 Kingman Academy (9-9, minus 1.1157, 6-4 West Region for 3rd), No. 12 Arizona Lutheran 43-34 over No. 21 Scottsdale Prep (7-9, minus 0.7724, 5-5 Central Region for 4th), No. 13 Bisbee 58-21 over No. 20 Phoenix Veritas Prep (11-6, 0.8334, 1-3 Metro Region for 4th), and No. 14 Sanders Valley 69-41 over No. 19 Phoenix Christian (7-8, 1.2518, 2-2 Metro Region for 3rd).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Ciante Dosela draws attention from Glendale Prep freshmen Sydney Pettingill (5) and Joanna Zupot (30) as she dribbles to the basket. The entire 10-member Morenci squad received court time.

The two upsets were No. 17 Eagar Round Valley 61-49 over No. 16 Ganado (10-7, 1.6439, 8-4 North Region for 3rd) and No. 18 Phoenix Horizon Honors 51-44 over No. 15 Benson (9-8, 4.0344, 5-5 East Region for 4th).

Final East Region Standings

The 2A East Region members were ranked No. 1 through No. 26 of 46 teams on Feb. 12. Top-ranked Pima (25-1 overall, 18-0 seeding, 24.8846 rating, 10-0 region) is first, No. 10 Morenci (17-6, 12-4, 5.9122, 8-2) second, No. 13 Bisbee (14-6, 9-6, 5.1654, 5-5) third, No. 15 Benson (14-10, 9-8, 4.0344, 5-5) fourth, No. 25 Tombstone (8-13, 6-12, minus 2.9899, 2-8) fifth, and No. 26 Willcox (8-18, 7-12, minus 4.2287, 0-10) sixth.