Morenci girls remain in playoff contention

By Raymundo Frasquillo

The Steve Chavez-coached Morenci basketball girls are ranked 23rd of 51 2A teams with three region games left. The Wildcats are at Willcox on Tuesday, Jan. 23 and at Tombstone on Friday, Jan. 26, and host Thatcher on Tuesday, Jan. 30.

Morenci (8-13 overall, 6-8 seeding record, minus 2.2571 rating, 5-4 region for No. 4) is ranked 23rd to start the week, as of Sunday, Jan. 21.

The Wildcats fell 22-41 to the Roughriders in Pima on Jan. 16 and topped the Tucson Saint Augustine Catholic Wolves, 51-10, Jan. 18 and the Tombstone Yellow Jackets, 29-26, Jan. 20, both in Morenci.

Morenci – 29, Tombstone – 26

The outcome came down to the final 12 seconds with the visitors having possession of the ball.  A timeout set the strategy for the Yellow Jackets, but the clock wound down before a score was made. Shantay Malone took the final shot for Tombstone.

Photo By Raymundo Frasquillo: Senior Heather Lee, right, and Tombstone’s Annie Graham go after a second-half rebound.

Morenci scored its final two points on senior Janeene Lang’s field goal with 2:14 remaining to play, less than two minutes after the visitors got within a point, 26-27. The Wildcats led by five, 25-20, 10 seconds into the final period.

Senior Alex Chee tied the score at 17-17 on a field goal with 4:46 left in the third period. A pair of her free throws 55 seconds later gave the Wildcats the lead for good. Chee netted a game-high 13 points on five field goals plus 3-19 free throws.

Morenci trailed 15-17 at halftime but led 23-20 heading into the final period. The score was knotted 8-8 following the opening period.

The Wildcats totaled 11 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 5-15 free throws compared to 11 field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 3-17 free throws by Tombstone.

Senior Ashley Hernandez added six points, Lang four, sophomore Bridgid Silvester three, senior Heather Lee two, and junior Reona Alvarez one.

For Tombstone, Victoria Maxwell and Brianna Willey had six points apiece, Lexi Chavez five, Malone and Nayell Parra three each, Elissa Willey two, and Annie Graham one.

Photo By Raymundo Frasquillo: Senior Alex Chee scored the go-ahead points against Tombstone on a pair of free throws with 3:51 left in the third period. Morenci won 29-26.

Morenci – 59, Saint Augustine – 10

The lopsided score was directly related to the experience level on the court. Saint Augustine started two seniors, a junior, and two sophomores while Morenci led off with four seniors and a sophomore.

Morenci scored in double figures in each of the four periods, leading 17-4 following the opening period, 35-6 at halftime, and 46-7 heading into the final period.

Saint Augustine reached double figures on freshman Colleen Dehn’s 3-pointer with 5:13 left to play.

The Wildcats totaled 22 field goals (five 3-pointers) plus 10-14 free throws versus three field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 2-4 free throws by the Wolves.

Ten of 12 Wildcats contributed to the scoring total. Chee had a game-high 10 points on four field goals plus 2-2 free throws. Senior Destiny Apodaca added nine points, freshman Destinee Marquez and Silvester eight apiece, sophomore Desiree Babb and Hernandez six each, Lang five, Alvarez four, junior Faith Hood two, and Lee one.

For the Wolves, senior Destiny Ruiz had six points, Dehn three, and sophomore Bryanna Rodriguez one.

Pima – 41, Morenci – 22

Morenci trailed by 10, 21-31, at the start of the final period, but was limited to a Babb free throw while Pima added 10 more. The Roughriders led 13-8 following the opening period and 22-14 at halftime.

The Wildcats netted eight field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 3-9 free throws compared to 15 field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 10-21 free throws for the Roughriders.

Hernandez had 11 points on four field goals (three 3-pointers). Chee added three points, and both Babb and Marquez three each.

For Pima, senior Emily Warn tallied 15 points on five field goals plus 5-9 free throws, senior McCall Thygerson 12 on five field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 1-3 free throws, and senior Jessica Sherwood 10 on four field goals plus 2-6 free throws. Junior Alani Blair added four points.