Morenci welcomes Tombstone for a regional contest Friday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Freshman Rozlyn Funari looks to pass off the ball against San Carlos during the Nov. 21 season home opener. Morenci fell by a large margin, has a current 3-3 seeding record, and the Braves (10-0) are No.1 on the initial 2A rankings released on Jan. 5. The Wildcats host Tombstone on Friday, Jan. 6.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – The Albert Ortega-coached Morenci Wildcats resume region play this week, welcoming the Tombstone Yellow Jackets on Friday, Jan. 6. The 2A East Region contest is in Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium with a tip-off of 5:30 p.m. The Jan. 3 scheduled non-region home contest with Eagar Round Valley was canceled and rescheduled for Jan. 25.

Other games this week include Willcox at Pima on Jan. 6.

Bisbee and Pima started 2023 with region wins, 56-37 over Willcox at home (Jan. 3) and 53-28 over Benson on the road (Jan. 4), respectively. Pima topped Snowflake 41-31 in a non-region on Jan. 5.

Region standings as of Jan. 4 are Pima (13-1 overall, 5-0 seeding, 3-0 region), Morenci (8-6, 3-3, 2-1), Benson (12-3, 5-2, 2-2), Bisbee (9-4, 5-3, 2-2), Willcox (9-6, 4-2, 1-1), Tombstone (4-7, 2-3, 0-2), and Tucson Santa Rita (1-5, 1-5, 0-2).

The remaining games for region members after this week include 13 (9 region) for Tombstone, 12 (8 region) for both Pima and Willcox, 11 (10 region) for Santa Rita, 10 (8 region) for Morenci, and nine (8 region) for both Benson and Bisbee.

2A State Rankings

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Freshmen Adriana Carbajal (4) and Jaliyah Hernandez (44) were pressed into service during the varsity home opener.

The initial statewide rankings, released at noon Thursday, have East and Valley Regions with five teams in the Top 24; the Metro Region with four; the Central and North Regions with three each, and both the South and West Regions with two.

Valley Region San Carlos (10-0 seeding, 17.1619 rating) is the top team of 46. Valley Region Gilbert Leading Edge is second (9-0, 13.8530), East Region Pima third (4-0, 12.1850), Metro Region Phoenix Country Day School fourth (6-0, 11.0224), Metro Region Sedona Red Rock fifth (8-1, 10.5955), South Region Phoenix Horizon Honors sixth (6-1, 8.013), North Region Saint Johns seventh (5-1, 8.2053), Central Region Glendale Prep eighth (3-0, 7.9065), East Region Bisbee ninth (5-3, 5.9995), and East Region Willcox 10th (4-2, 5.8457).

Valley Region Mesa Arete Prep is 11th (6-2, 5.7891), North Region Sanders Valley 12th (4-3, 5.4605), Central Region Phoenix Christian 13th (3-2, 4.9351), East Region Benson 14th (4.2864), Valley Region Gilbert Classical 15th (6-3, 2.8134), East Region Morenci 16th (3-3, 2.4660), Valley Region Miami 17th (4-4, 2.2047), Central Region Phoenix Basis 18th (5-2, 1.6861), West Region Avondale Saint Paul II Catholic 19th (6-2, 1.4973), and North Region Round Valley 20th (3-2, 0.6199).

Metro Region Scottsdale Rancho Solano Prep is 21st (4-3, 0.4470), South Region Chandler Prep 22nd (4-3, 0.3227), West Region Phoenix Arizona Lutheran 23rd (32, 0.0956), and Metro Region Scottsdale Prep 24th (4-2, minus 0.1873).

The other East Region member rankings are Tombstone 26th (minus 0.2949) and Santa Rita 40th (1-5, minus 9.0583).

Tombstone Yellow Jackets

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Keirah Chee (14) concentrates at the free throw line.

The Yellow Jackets (4-7 overall, 2-3 seeding, 0-2 region) are averaging a 21-39 (234-429) score per game or an 18-point deficit.

Tombstone has wins of 36-15 over Duncan (Nov. 18), 29-27 over Tucson Palo Verde Magnet (Dec. 9), 31-23 over Tucson Amphitheater (Dec. 15), and 20-16 over Patagonia (Dec. 16).

The losses have been 15-69 to Saint David (Nov. 30), 23-53 to Bisbee (Dec. 8), 5-73 to Pima (Dec. 13), 24-50 to Sahuarita (Dec. 16), 21-63 to Douglas (Dec. 16), and 30-43 to Amphitheater (Dec. 17).

Tombstone’s roster includes seniors Cynthia Brown and Miranda Ursell; juniors Julie Jacquay and Annie Loreto; and sophomores Kashari Baker, Brooklynn Penrose, Emma Rivera, Briella Schuller, Ed’Jerrica Spencer, and Rachel Thursby,

Morenci Wildcats

The Wildcats are averaging a 38-45 (532-631) score per game (or a 7-point deficit) and shooting 47 percent (87-186) from the free throw line compared to 42 percent (73-175) for their combined opponents.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Elena Lenard sights in on the basket as she attempts a free throw. The Morenci junior has both attempted and made the most free throws on the team and is tied for the highest free throw percentage.

Senior Mia Ontiveros has contributed double-digit scoring nine times with a high of 33 points, junior Elena Leonard eight times with a high of 18, and senior Cambri McCauley thrice with a high of 10. Ontiveros has averaged 13.1 (170) points per game, Leonard 10.0 (140), and McCauley 4.6 (65).

The free throw percentage is 55 for both Ontiveros (24-44) and Leonard (31-56), followed by 48 (20-42) for senior Keirah Chee, 43 (3-7) for sophomore Jayden McCall, 40 (2-5) for senior Ciante Dosela, 38 (3-8) for freshman Jaliyah Hernandez, 27 (3-11) for sophomore Sway Cordova, and 9 (1-11) for senior Cambri McCauley. Senior Chastity Gardner is 0-2 and freshman Rozlyn Funari is 0-1. Sophomore Tayah Wilkes and freshman Adriana Carbajal have not attempted free throws.

To date, Morenci has wins of 61-48 over Benson (Dec. 1), 53-40 over Elfrida Valley Union (Dec. 5), 55-13 over Tucson Santa Rita (Dec. 13), 49-30 over Duncan (Dec. 21), 30-26 over Tucson Desert Christian (Dec. 28), 31-20 over Phoenix Goldwater (Dec. 28), 31-30 over Apache Junction (Dec. 28), and 43-37 over Phoenix Veritas Prep (Dec. 29).

The losses are 38-82 to San Carlos (Nov. 21), 28-65 to Saint David (Nov. 28), 51-52 to Willcox (Dec. 8), 25-71 to Thatcher (Dec. 19), 43-67 to Fort Thomas (Dec. 20), and 4-50 to Sahuarita (Dec. 29).

After this week, Morenci has five home games and five road games left on its schedule. The Wildcats host Pima (Jan. 12), Willcox (Jan. 17), Benson (Jan. 24), Eagar Round Valley (Jan.25), and Bisbee (Feb. 2). The road games are at Bisbee (Jan. 9), at Santa Rita (Jan. 20), at Gilbert San Tan Charter (Jan. 26), at Tombstone (Jan. 30), and at Pima (Feb. 7).

Morenci – 43, Veritas Prep – 37

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Ciantae Dosela (24) tracks the ball on its trajectory and follows through after the free throw attempt. The Morenci senior is one of four Class of 2023 members on the team.

The Falcons outscored the Wildcats 7-2 in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough to erase a 41-30 Morenci three-quarters advantage. The Wildcats led 11-9 after the first quarter and 25-16 at halftime.

For the game, Morenci made 16 field goals (seven 3-pointers) plus 4-6 free throws compared to 14 field goals plus 9-24 free throws by Veritas Prep.

Leonard had a game-high 18 points on seven field goals (four 3-pointers) and Ontiveros 16 on six field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 2-3 free throws. McCall added four points, Dosela three, and McCauley two.

For the 2A Metro Region Falcons (5-7, 3-4, 0-0), sophomore McKenzie Perrault and freshman Valeria Castaneda both had nine points, freshman Cate Schneider eight, junior Dorothy Maafu six, freshman Quinn Del Duca three, and sophomore Anabella Merritt two.

Sahuarita – 50, Morenci – 4

Morenci was held scoreless in the first and fourth quarters and limited to a lone field goal plus 2-4 free throws. Chee had three points and Leonard one.

Two 4A Gila Region Mustangs (13-6, 4-4, 0-0) scored in double figures. Freshman Ari Ganillo had a game-high 13 points on five field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 2-5 free throws and sophomore Camilla Villalobos 11 on five field goals plus 1-4 free throws. Senior Hannah Silvester scored eight points against her former teammates, sophomore Emma Benitez and freshman Angel Amarillas added four apiece, senior Briana Pollard and junior Kealy Myhre three each, and both junior Emaree Key and sophomore Emma Benitez two each.

Morenci – 31, Apache Junction – 30

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Cambri McCauley (1) attacks the basket against Fort Thomas (Dec. 20), scoring 10 points.

A 20-18 second-half effort helped spell victory for the Wildcats as they trailed 11-12 at halftime.

The Wildcats connected on 12 field goals plus 7-19 free throws compared to 11 field goals (four 3-pointers) plus 4-6 free throws by the Prospectors.

Ontiveros had a team-high 11 points on four field goals plus 3-7 free throws. Carbajal added six points, Chee and Leonard five apiece, and Cordova four.

For the 4A Black Canyon Region Prospectors, junior Allie Pride had a game-high 16 points on six field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 1-2 free throws. Junior Faith Marquez and freshman Bella Winn added six points apiece and senior Heather Cornwell two.

Morenci – 31 Goldwater – 20

The recharged Wildcats returned from a 14-14 first-half deadlock to outscore the Bulldogs 17-6.

Ontiveros had a team-high 18 points on seven field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 2-2 free throws. Leonard added seven points, Chee four, and McCauley two.

The 4A West Valley Region Bulldogs (6-5, 5-2, 0-0) got scoring from five different players, none in double figures. Sophomore Tatiana Tsosie had eight points, sophomore Marcy Robbins four, senior Angie Curley and sophomore Cecelia Davies three apiece, and sophomore Joy Kenfack two.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Mia Ontiveros (13) handled the ball during the season opener with San Carlos. The Morenci senior contributed 12 points, has added double-digit scoring in nine of 13 games played in, and has a career-high 33 points. She was named to the all-tourney team following the 46th Eastern Arizona Holiday Tourney.

Morenci – 30, Desert Christian – 26

The Wildcats withstood a 13-8 second-half outing by the Eagles, on the strength of a 22-13 first-half advantage.

Ontiveros had a team-high 12 points on six field goals. Chee and McCauley both added six points, Cordova four, and Leonard two.

For the 1A Northwest Region Eagles (10-6, 7-1, 2-0), senior Olivia Perez had a game-high 15 points on five field goals plus 5-6 free throws. Senior Emma Charles added six points and junior Anika Mulky five.