Morenci, Thatcher open 46th EA Holiday Tourney

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Then Duncan freshman Emily Kempton (24) draws Thatcher junior Molly Brown (10) and sophomore Macey Carter (23) as she picks up the ball during last year’s tournament in which Thatcher defeated Duncan 47-11 and became a meet finalist for the 22nd time, three behind Safford’s 25 times. The 46 EA Girls Tourney begins Monday and runs through Wednesday.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

THATCHER – The Albert Ortega-coached Morenci Wildcats take on the Dennis Griffin-coached Thatcher Eagles, opening the 46th Eastern Arizona Holiday Tourney on Monday, Dec. 19 at 1 p.m.

Duncan meets Pima at 2:30 p.m., Saint David meets Miami at 6:30 p.m., and Fort Thomas meets Safford at 8 p.m. to conclude the first round. The second round is on Tuesday, Dec. 20, and the final round on Wednesday, Dec. 21.

Game 1: Morenci vs. Thatcher, 1 p.m.

The 2A East Region Wildcats (3-3 overall, 3-3 seeding, 2-1 region) are averaging a 46-50 (276-300) score per game or a 4-point deficit.

Morenci has wins of 61-48 over Benson (Dec. 1), 53-40 over Elfrida Valley Union (Dec. 5), and 55-13 over Tucson Santa Rita (Dec. 13). The losses are 38-82 to San Carlos (Nov. 21), 28-65 to Saint David (Nov. 28), and 51-52 to Willcox (Dec. 8).

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Then Pima senior Saydee Allred (22) goes up for a lay-up during a round one game against Willcox. The Roughriders advanced with a record-tying output and Allred was selected to the all-tourney team. Allred now plays for the Yavapai Roughriders junior college team.

The 3A South Region Eagles (3-0, 3-0, 0-0) are averaging a 69-21 (208-63) score per game or 48-point margin per game.

Thatcher has wins of 88-6 Gilbert San Tan Charter (Nov. 29), 63-36 Douglas (Dec. 1), and 57-21 Tucson Sabino (Dec. 15).

The Wildcats are 59-63 (.484) during 41 previous tourneys while the Eagles are 91-43 (.679) during 45 previous tourneys.

Game 2: Duncan vs. Pima, 2:30 p.m.

The Eldon Merrell-coached 1A Tucson Southeast Region Wildkats (4-7, 3-4, 0-0) are averaging a 29-33 (322-368) score per game or a 4-point deficit.

Duncan has wins of 32-13 over Winkelman Hayden (Nov. 22), 48-14 over the Tucson Arizona School for the Deaf and the Blind (Dec. 1), 41-12 over San Simon (Dec. 8), and 52-27 over San Manuel (Dec. 13). The losses are 15-36 to Tombstone (Nov. 18), 21-39 to Sells Baboquivari (Nov. 21), 13-46 to Joseph City (Nov. 21), 18-50 to Bisbee (Nov. 22), 26-43 to Baboquivari (Nov. 30), 33-36 to Tucson Desert Christian (Dec. 9), and 23-52 to Fort Thomas (Dec. 15).

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Ashley Sherwood (11) looks for an open teammate while defended by Thatcher senior Aubrey Pace (4) during last year’s tournament. The Pima senior was selected for the all-tourney team and played on EAC’s volleyball team last season.

The Roy Corona-coached 2A East Region Roughriders (8-1, 3-0, 2-0) are averaging a 49-22 (440-198) score per game or a 27-point margin.

Pima has topped Phoenix Arizona Lutheran 45-8 (Dec. 2), Rock Point 1-0 (Dec. 8), Holbrook 66-34 (Dec. 8), Lakeside Blue Ridge 51-18 (Dec. 9), Gilbert Leading Edge 54-36 (Dec. 9), Eagar Round Valley 47-19 (Dec. 10), Tombstone 73-5 (Dec. 13), and Bisbee 64-35 (Dec. 15). The lone loss was 39-43 to Whiteriver Alchesay (Dec. 10).

The Wildkats are 55-77 (.417) during 44 previous tourneys while the Roughriders are 69-57 (.548) during 42 previous tourneys.

Game 3: Saint David vs. Miami, 6:30 p.m.

The Matt Brogan-coached 1A Tucson Southeast Region Tigers (11-1, 6-1, 0-0) are averaging a 59-22 (713-264) score per game or a 37-point margin.

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Then Safford junior Lexi Lucas (24) draws a foul will attempting a pass. She made 3-4 against Saint David and was selected to the all-tourney team. Safford defeated Saint David 39-29 for fifth place.

Saint David has wins of 65-28 over Morenci (Nov. 28), 69-15 over Tombstone (Nov. 30), 40-10 over Colorado City El Capitan (Dec. 1), 77-3 over Kearny ray (Dec. 1), 43-29 over Williams (Dec. 2), 53-20 over Ash Fork (Dec. 2), 70-53 over Williams (Dec. 3), 58-11 over San Manuel (Dec. 6), 69-13 over Tucson’s The Gregory School (Dec. 8), 45-30 over Salome (Dec. 9), and 78-3 over Ray (Dec. 12). The lone loss has been 46-49 to Fort Thomas (Dec. 17).

The Crystal Pietila-coached 2A Valley Region Vandals (4-2, 4-2, 1-1) have a 59-30 (352-178) score per game or 29-point margin per game.

Miami defeated Hayden 83-8 (Nov. 29), Queen Creek San Tan Foothills 57-32 (Dec. 2), San Tan Charter 91-11 (Dec. 13), and Globe 43-38 (Dec. 17). The losses are 35-42 to Blue Ridge (Dec. 7) and 43-47 to Leading Edge (Dec. 16).

The Tigers are 1-2 (.333) during a previous tourney while the Vandals are 3-12 (.200) during five previous tourneys.

Game 4: Fort Thomas vs. Safford, 8 p.m.

The Lee Haws-coached 2A Copper Region Apaches (11-2, 6-1, 0-1) are averaging a 50-34 (649-436) score per game or a 16-point margin.

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Duncan senior Kiley McGrath (20) attempts a shot underneath the raised arm of a Safford defender. McGrath had a team-high nine points and totaled 30 for the meet. She was selected for the all-tourney team. Safford won the consolation semifinal pairing 45-23.

Fort Thomas has wins of 45-26 over Chandler Lincoln Prep (Nov. 22), 63-9 over San Manuel (Nov. 29), 58-23 over Phoenix Valley Lutheran (Dec. 1), 58-6 over Scottsdale Cicero Prep (Dec. 6), 49-33 over Eagar Round Valley (Dec. 8), 39-29 over Prescott (Dec. 8), 50-47 over Rock Point (Dec. 9), 58-44 over Saint Michael (Dec. 10), 40-29 over Joseph City (Dec. 10), 49-46 over Saint David (Dec. 13), and 52-23 over Duncan (Dec. 15). The two losses are 35-55 to Whiteriver Alchesay (Dec. 9) and 53-59 to Joseph City (Dec. 16).

The Robert Abalos-coached 3A South Region Bulldogs (3-8, 2-4, 0-0) have a 43-54 (476-530) score per game or an 11-point deficit per game.

Safford has wins of 67-59 over Douglas (Nov. 22), 36-33 over Snowflake (Dec. 6), and 60-34 over Prescott (Dec. 8). The losses are 49-58 to Round Valley (Nov. 28), 46-52 to Sahuarita (Dec. 2), 27-41 to Holbrook (Dec. 8), 47-54 to Rock Point (Dec. 8), 30-44 to Round Valley (Dec. 9), 32-37 to Saint Johns (Dec. 10), 32-41 to New Mexico Silver (Dec. 15), and 50-77 to Tucson Pueblo (Dec. 17).

The Apaches are 61-65 (.484) during 42 previous tourneys while the Bulldogs are 95-38 (.714) during 45 previous tourneys.

45th Tourney Results

Top seed Pima pulled away from second seed Thatcher 56-33 to capture the 45th annual Eastern Arizona Holiday Tourney title on Dec. 21. It was the eighth meeting of the top two seeds in the finale and the fourth straight win for the top seed in the most recent 12 tourneys (35th-45th). The second seed won eight times and the third seed once during the same 13-year (2008-2021, not held in 2020) span.

The 2021 girl’s tourney was the first to have a Saturday start and the third (1997, 1998) to run together with the boys’ meet.

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Then Pima freshman Ady Hoopes (42) slips past a pair of Willcox defenders, senior Alyssa Rogers (14) and junior Kennedy Peterson (12), en route to the basket. Pima prevailed 92-14 in game four.

Pima reached the championship game with wins of 92-14 over eighth-seed Willcox in the first round and 72-31 over fourth-seed Morenci in the semifinals.

Thatcher advanced with a 47-11 first-round win over seventh seed Duncan and a 65-57 semifinal win over third seed Fort Thomas.

Fort Thomas slipped past Morenci 72-68 for third place, sixth seed Fort Safford defeated fifth seed Saint David 39-29 for fifth place, and Duncan steadily pulled away from Willcox 35-22 for seventh place.

Advancing in the consolation round were Saint David and Safford with wins of 58-22 over Willcox and 45-23 over Duncan, respectively.

The other first-round winners were Morenci (48-45 over Saint David) and Fort Thomas (58-27 over Safford).

45th All-Tourney Team

Meet champion Pima and runner-up Thatcher both landed three players on the 2021 honor team. Pima had seniors Ashlie and Aubrie Sherwood as well as the most valuable player Saydee Allred. Thatcher had senior Olivia Lunt along with juniors Haley Nicholas and Ashlynn Thompson.

Fort Thomas senior Chasinee Stanley and sophomore Jasmine Olivar, Morenci seniors Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar and Zenayah Cortez, Safford junior Lexi Lucas, Saint David sophomore Anissa Jacquez, Duncan senior Kiley McGrath, and Willcox senior Kamrielle Wyatt rounded out the team.

Olivar contributed 61 points and averaged 20.3 points per game, Allred (56, 18.7), Cortez (54, 18.0), Nicholas (47, 15.7), Jacquez (43, 14.3), Aubrie Sherwood (41, 13.7), Ashlie Sherwood (34, 11.3), Stanley (31, 10.3), Thompson (31, 10.3), Lunt (30, 10.0), McGrath (30, 10.0), Lucas (23, 7.7), Aguilar (15, 5.0), and Wyatt (11, 3.7).

Allred, Cortez, Aubrie Sherwood, and Thompson were also on the 2019 team.

Tourney Records

The two most recent top seeds both turned in 92-point scoring efforts, occurring during first-round pairings versus eighth seeds.

Pima tied the recently set single-game scoring total record with its 78-point, 92-14 win over Willcox in the 2021 game 4 (Dec. 18, 2021). The Roughriders made 41 field goals (six 3-pointers) plus 4-10 free throws.

San Carlos re-set the meet single-game scoring record with its 71-point, 92-21 win over Duncan in the 2019 game 2 (Dec. 12, 2019). The Braves made 37 field goals (eleven 3-pointers) plus 7-12 free throws.

The previous high was 91 points by top seed Thatcher against eighth seed Clifton during game 4 of the 25th tourney first round (Dec. 20, 2000). The Eagles ended with 40 field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 10-13 free throws for a 61-point margin, 91-30.

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: A scramble for a loose ball has a hand landing on a throat accidentally. Saint David sophomore Mayla Trejo (2) tries to keep Morenci senior Delicia Roybal (20) from getting the ball. Morenci slipped past Saint David 48-45 during game two of the meet.

Individually, Heaven Cosen became the third player to score 35 points in a game during the 2019 tourney, tying Pima’s Shari Lunt and Clifton’s Roberta Lopez.

Cosen tossed in 15 field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 2-4 free throws against Duncan. It was during the first round of game 2 of the 44th tourney on Dec. 12, 2019. The Braves ran away to a semifinal advancement.

Lunt connected on 13 field goals plus 9-14 free throws against Clifton. It was during the first round game 3 of the 11th tourney on Dec. 18, 1986. The Roughriders won 59-44.

Lopez made 13 field goals plus 9-17 free throws against Morenci. It was during the consolation round game 6 of the 13th tourney on Dec. 21, 1988. The Trojans prevailed 61-50.

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Zenayah Cortez (23) made 9-10 free throws in the first-round game with Saint David. She made 22-28 and totaled 54 points for the three games combined. The Morenci senior was selected for the all-tourney team.

Clifton’s Toni Navarrete scored 34 points against Morenci in a 61-43 losing effort during the 3rd place game of the 2nd tourney (Dec. 23, 1977); Shari Lunt and Jovita Titla (Fort Thomas) both tossed in 33 points, Lunt against Fort Thomas in a 47-45 3rd place win during the 11th tourney (Dec. 20, 1986) and Titla against Willcox in a round one 57-49 win during the 17th tourney (Dec. 21, 1992); 32 points were added by Morenci’s Stephanie Upton against Pima in a 70-20 round one win during the 4th tourney (Dec. 20, 1979), Lori Browning of Willcox in a 71-49 round one win over Safford during the 23rd tourney (Dec. 21, 1998), Marylita Moses of Fort Thomas in the 68-59 two overtimes loss to Willcox during the 25th tourney (Dec. 20, 2000), and Tori Davis of Willcox in the 67-60 5th place loss to Fort Thomas during the 26th tourney (Dec. 22, 2001); and Roberta Lopez twice scored 31 points during the 14th tourney, in a 58-48 round one loss to Morenci (Dec. 20, 1989) and in a 48-44 consolation round win over Duncan (Dec. 21, 1989).

Thirty points were netted by Dodo Chavez of Morenci in the 61-43 3rd place win over Clifton during the 2nd tourney (Dec. 23, 1977), Kim Mack of Thatcher in the 60-40 championship game win over Duncan during the 12th tourney (Dec. 23, 1987), and Shawn Coder of Willcox in the 44-30 championship game win over Thatcher during the 13th tourney (Dec. 22, 1988).

Rhonda Pike of Fort Thomas single-handedly matched Clifton’s 29 points in a 43-29 consolation round win during the 6th tourney (Dec. 22, 1981); Michelle Castaneda of Clifton first matched that amount in a 53-14 consolation round win over Morenci during the 11th tourney (Dec. 19, 1986); Coder did twice, in a 60-44 round one win over Fort Thomas during the 12th tourney (Dec. 21, 1987) and in a 53-48 semifinal win over Pima during the 13th tourney (Dec. 21, 1988); and Cailee Huffman of Thatcher was most recent in a 51-43 3rd place win over Duncan during the 30th tourney (Dec. 21, 2005).

Morenci’s Zenayah Cortez and Pima’s Sadie Allred both tied the offensive efforts of six others with 28 points apiece during the final round (Dec. 21, 2021). Cortez made nine field goals plus 10-15 free throws in a 72-68 loss to Fort Thomas in the third-place game. Allred had seven field goals (four 3-pointers) plus 10-13 free throws in the 56-33 title game win over Thatcher (Dec. 21, 2021).

Dodo Chavez first reached 28 points against Fort Thomas in a 3rd tourney 71-15 first-round win (Dec. 28, 1978); tied by Thatcher’s Vicki Ward against Morenci in a 10th tourney 54-52 semifinal win (Dec. 20, 1985); Melba Moses of Fort Thomas against Pima in a 14th tourney 59-51 consolation round win (Dec. 21, 1989); Tori Davis of Willcox during the 25th tourney twice, against Clifton in a 53-14 consolation win (Dec. 19, 2000) and in a 68-59 two overtimes 5th place win (Dec. 20, 2000); and by Deon Abalos of Safford against Thatcher in a 40th tourney 60-50 semifinal win (Dec. 19, 2015).

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: The Apaches are without the services of all-star Jasmine Olivar this year, who transferred to a larger school in the Valley.

Jasmine Olivar of Fort Thomas made eight field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 8-10 free throws for 26 points in the third-place win over Morenci. It tied 10 others, the first being Dodo Chavez of Morenci in a 53-51 semifinal game loss to Eagar Round Valley during the 2nd tourney (Dec. 22, 1977). Clifton’s Martha Tellez tied a year later in a 55-20 game 3 win over Thatcher (Dec. 28, 1978) and Gayle Kirby of Willcox in a game 4 46-43 loss to Round Valley both in round one of the 3rd tourney.

Kim Sharp of Thatcher also tossed in 26 points against Fort Thomas in a 16th tourney 60-45 third place win (Dec. 21, 1991); Sarah Nickasch of Willcox against Safford in a 20th tourney 60-49 consolation loss (Dec. 21, 1995); Vanna Moses of Fort Thomas twice against Duncan during the 30th tourney, in a 62-58 team third game loss (Dec. 19, 2005) and in a 63-56 semifinal win (Dec. 20, 2005); Shayla Tipton of Duncan against Thatcher in a 31st tourney 53-44 round one win (Dec. 19, 2006); Lena Moses of Fort Thomas against Safford in a 32nd tourney 63-44 round one loss (Dec. 19, 2007); and Kindra Holiday of Miami against Morenci in a 35th tourney 61-45 seventh place loss (Dec. 22, 2010).

Ashley Sherwood of Pima matched 13 others with her 25 game 4 points, most recently teammate Sadie Allred’s semifinal game output against Thatcher in the 44th tourney (Dec. 13, 2019). Sherwood connected on 12 field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 0-2 free throws. The first to score 25 points was Lisa Moses of Fort Thomas against Round Valley in a 51-38 round one loss during the 2nd tourney (Dec. 21, 1977). 

Beginning as a 4-team, 2-day meet with two games each day during the nation’s 1976 Bicentennial year, the ensuing 44 tourneys included eight teams with four games in three days. Morenci defeated Clifton 55-42 for the title after the Wildcats topped Thatcher 56-11 and the Trojans downed Safford 29-15 on the first day. Safford ended third with a 33-21 win over Thatcher.

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Aubrey Sherwood (10) moves to block the path of Thatcher junior guard Haley Nicholas (21) during the championship game. Sherwood and Nicholas were both selected for the all-tourney team. Pima topped Thatcher 56-33 for first place. Aubrey played volleyball for EAC last season.

Following 45 tourneys, Safford is 95-38 (.714) overall, playing only two games in the 1998 meet because the seventh-place game was not held, and Thatcher 91-43 (.679).

Duncan is 55-77 (.417) and Willcox 52-81 (.391) in 44 tourneys apiece, both Pima 69-57 (.548) and Fort Thomas 61-65 (.484) in 42 tourneys, Morenci 59-63 (.484) in 41 tourneys, and Saint David 1-2 (.333) in one tourney.

Ten other teams have also participated, shuttered Clifton (19-72) in 31 tourneys; Miami (3-12) and New Mexico Cliff (9-6) in five tourneys; Globe and San Carlos both 5-1 and San Simon (1-5), each in two tourneys; and Ajo (1-2), Eagar Round Valley (1-2), New Mexico Bayard Cobre (1-2), and Tucson Green Fields Country Day School (0-3) in one tourney apiece.

Safford is 16-9 in title games, won five in a row from 2014-18 (39th-43rd), three straight from 1983-85 (8th-10th), and winning back-to-back in 1990-91 (15th-16th); Thatcher 12-10 and has the meet record for most consecutive title wins, seven from 1997 – 2003 (22nd-28th); Pima 4-8, winning back-to-back in 1992-93 (17th-18th); Morenci 3-6; Willcox 3-2, winning back-to-back in 1992-93 (17th-18th), Duncan 2-3; and Fort Thomas 2-3, winning back-to-back in 2005-06 (30th-31st).

Five other finalists have three titles between them. Globe and San Carlos are both 1-1, Cliff 1-0, and both Clifton and Round Valley 0-1 in the championship games.