Morenci girls welcome Cowgirls on Thursday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior Destanee Marquez pulls away from Show Low freshman Grace Moore for two of her 7 points. The Cougars left Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium with a 51-32 win on Jan. 29. Morenci hosts Willcox on Thursday, Feb. 4.

Wildcats leave Paradise Valley triumphant, falter in next three contests

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – The Albert Ortega-coached Morenci girls’ basketball team opened the 2021 season with a 54-39 win over the 2A Metro Region Phoenix Country Day School Eagles Jan. 23. Morenci fell 40-61 to 2A East Eagar Round Valley Jan. 27, 50-75 to Saint Johns Jan. 29, and 32-51 to 3A East Show Low Jan. 30.

This week, Morenci (1-3 overall, 0-2 region), averaging a 44-57 (176-226) score per game or a 13-point deficit, hosts the 2A South Willcox Cowboys (1-3, 0-1) for a non-region pairing Thursday, Feb. 4 and visits the Pima Roughriders (4-0, 0-0) for a region counter Friday, Feb. 5.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci sophomore Mia Ontiveros dribbles away from Show Low sophomore Hanna Buckholz. Ontiveros added seven points and Buckholz two.

Willcox is averaging a score of 23-49 (91-196) per game or a 26-point deficit. The Cowboys downed Patagonia 28-25 (Jan. 21) before falling 28-56 to Blue Ridge (Jan. 22), 18-53 to Benson (Jan. 29), and 17-62 to Saint David (Feb. 1).

Pima has averaged a score of 62-39 (249-155) per game or a 23-point margin. The Roughriders topped Safford 57-25 (Jan. 19), Benson 62-42 (Jan. 22), Thatcher 62-42 (Jan. 28), and Saint David 68-48 (Jan. 29).

The Wildcats are in the same region with Pima, Saint Johns (4-0, 1-0), Round Valley (2-1, 1-0), and Miami (0-0, 0-0).

East Region pairings this week include Round Valley at Saint Johns and Pima at Miami on Feb.2; and Miami at Saint Johns on Feb. 5.

Other games for region members are Miami at Tucson Immaculate Heart and Round Valley at Show Low Wednesday, Feb. 3; Round Valley at Show Low Feb. 5; and Pima at Fort Thomas and Thatcher at Saint Johns on Saturday, Feb. 6.

Following four games, the Wildcats a free throw percentage of 57 (30-53) compared to 77 (33-43) for their combined opponents. Senior Destanee Marquez and junior Devanie Medina both have a percentage of 75 (3-4), junior Zenayah Cortez 58 (7-12), sophomore Mia Ontiveros 56 (5-9), junior Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar 53 (8-15), senior Jadah Cortez 50 (2-4), and sophomore Delicia Roybal 20 (1-5).

Show Low – 51, Morenci – 32

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Junior Devanie Medina takes a high percentage shot against Show Low senior Laura Ellsworth.

Aguilar scored the Wildcats’ initial basket with 2:28 elapsed in the game. It pared a 5-0 deficit to three points but the visiting Cougars led by the same margin, 13-10, at the start of the second quarter. Show Low led 24-14 at halftime and 40-19 heading into the fourth quarter.

For the game, the Wildcats made 11 field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 9-18 free throws compared to 17 field goals (seven 3-pointers) plus 10-13 free throws by the Cougars.

Aguilar netted 10 points on three field goals plus 4-6 free throws. Marquez and Ontiveros added seven points apiece, Medina and Roybal three each, and Jadah Cortez two.

Senior Laura Ellsworth and junior Nicole Roten had 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Cougars. Ellsworth made four field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 1-3 free throws while Roten made three 3-pointers plus 1-2 free throws. Junior Kyra Brogan and sophomore Alex Swanson added nine points apiece, sophomore Sadee Hall and freshman McKenzie Koulish four each, and sophomore Hanna Buckholz and freshman Kinzee Brogan two each,

Saint Johns – 75, Morenci – 50

The visiting Wildcats scored in double figures during all four quarters, but so did the host Redskins. They led 22-15 after the opening quarter, 35-27 at halftime, and 51-39 heading into the fourth quarter.

Morenci made 18 field goals (six 3-pointers) plus 8-14 free throws versus 33 field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 8-11 free throws by Saint Johns.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Delicia Roybal looks for an open teammate as Show Low freshman McKenzie Koulish defends.

Ontiveros tallied 17 points on six field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 4-7 free throws and Roybal 14 on five field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 1-3 free throws. Aguilar added nine points, Marquez six, and Medina four.

For the Redskins, senior JoAnn Wahl had 18 points on eight field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 1-2 free throws, sophomore Olivia Wiltbank 14 on seven field goals, sophomore Hannah Burt 12 on five field goals plus 2-2 free throws, and senior Mariso Begay 10 on four field goals plus 2-2 free throws. Freshman Aubrie Wilson added eight points, senior Liberty Raban five, junior Brooke Smith four, and both juniors Ashtyn and Kinsey Crosby two each.

Round Valley – 61, Morenci – 42

The Elks broke a 10-10 opening quarter deadlock in the second quarter with a 13-6 outing. Round Valley led 23-16 at halftime and 44-27 at the start of the fourth quarter.

For the evening, Morenci scored on 14 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 6-11 free throws compared to 23 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 13-15 free throws by the Elks.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Junior Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar, left, and senior Jadah Cortez team up to steal the ball from Show Low sophomore Addison Kotterman. Aguilar netted 10 points, Cortez two, and Kotterman did not score.

Aguilar totaled 13 points on six field goals plus 1-3 free throws, Zenayah Cortez 10 on three field goals plus 4-8 free throws, and Ontiveros 10 on four field goals (two 3-pointers). Marquez added four points, sophomore Hannah Silvester three, and Medina two.

For the Elks, senior Ada Mortensen had 14 points on five field goals plus 4-4 free throws, junior Emma Young 14 on six field goals plus 2-3 free throws, and McCall 11 on four field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 2-2 free throws. Senior Keyalala Bevell added eight points, sophomore Kayla Logan four, seniors Karli Haws and Belle Walker three apiece, junior Kyrie Walker two, and both R.Haws and Sanquist one each.

Morenci – 54, PCDS – 39

The Wildcats came out with a 20-5 third-quarter effort to erase a 22-25 halftime deficit. Morenci had a 42-30 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

Zenayah Cortez contributed 10 points, Marquez six, and Aguilar four during the third quarter.

“It could have been a higher score,” Ortega said. “They didn’t have very many players.”

Prior to tip-off, Ortega was uncertain the Wildcats were ready to play as not all of them had been available for practice sessions.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci sophomore Hannah Silvester goes for the ball during the home game with Show Low.

Morenci debuted a 13-member roster, managed double-digit scoring in all four segments, and reserves also received court time.

The Wildcats connected on 22 field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 7-10 free throws compared to 16 field goals (five 3-pointers) plus 2-4 free throws by the Eagles.

Aguilar totaled 16 points on seven field goals plus 2-4 free throws, Cortez 15 on six field goals plus 3-4 free throws, and Marquez 10 on four field goals plus 2-2 free throws. Silvester added six points, Ontiveros three, and both Jadah Cortez and Medina two apiece.

For the six Eagles, Nara Kaibara had 14 points on six field goals (two 3-pointers) and Kimi Cahoon 13 on five field goals (three 3-pointers). Ella Brenes and Manya Madala added six points each.

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