Pima captures 46th EA Holiday Tourney title

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Top seed Pima captured its fifth Eastern Arizona Holiday Tourney title, 53-42 over No. 2 Thatcher on Dec. 21. The Roughriders defeated No. 5 Saint David 49-23 in the semifinals and No. 8 Duncan 64-9 in the first round. Members of the team, not in order, were Kashlee Alder, Kelsi Brimhall, Ashlynn Chlarson, Madison Gann, Ady Hoopes, Lea Llamas, Kyli Mattice, Jayci McClain, Sadie Richardson, Jessica Schmidt, and Ella Wiltbank.

Roughriders are tourney champs for the second year in a row/Chlarson MVP

By Raymundo Frasquillo

THATCHER – Top seed Pima pulled away from second seed Thatcher 53-42 to capture the 46th annual Eastern Arizona Holiday Tourney title on Dec. 21. It was the ninth meeting of the top two seeds in the finale and the fifth straight win for the top seed in the most recent 13 tourneys (35th-46th). The second seed won eight times and the third seed once during the same 14-year (2008-2021, not held in 2020) span.

Pima reached the championship game with wins of 64-9 over eighth-seed Duncan in the first round and 49-23 over fifth-seed Saint David in the semifinals.

Thatcher advanced with a 71-25 first-round win over seventh-seed Morenci and a 46-21 semifinal win over sixth-seed Safford.

Saint David ran past Safford 56-24 for third place, fourth-seed Miami upset third-seed Fort Thomas 60-51 for fifth place, and Morenci pulled away from Duncan 49-30 for seventh place.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Pima junior Ella Wiltbank (25) readies a pass with Thatcher senior Hailey Nicholas (21) on her heels. Wiltbank and Nicholas were both selected for the all-tourney team. Pima topped Thatcher 53-42 for first place.

Safford (35-30 over Fort Thomas) and Saint David (61-52 over Miami) were the other first-round winners.

Advancing in the consolation round were Fort Thomas and Miami with wins of 67-43 over Morenci and 57-13 over Duncan, respectively.

The 2022 girl’s tourney was the 10th (1981, 1987, 1992, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2009, 2010) having a Monday start and Wednesday finish.

46th Eastern Arizona Holiday All-Tourney Team

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: The 46th Eastern Arizona Holiday All-Tourney team included, from left, Ashlynn Chlarson, Ella Wiltbank, and Jaci McClain of Pima; Macey Carter, Ashlyn Thompson, and Hailey Nicholas of Thatcher; Brianna Camarena of Safford, of Layla Thompson Miami, Aleena Gilbert of Fort Thomas, Mia Ontiveros of Morenci, and Emily Kempton of Duncan. Also on the honor team but not pictured were Lexi Lucas of Safford as well as Anissa Jacquez and Mayla Trejo of Saint David.

Meet champion Pima and runner-up Thatcher both landed three players on the 2022 honor team. Pima had senior Jaci McClain and junior Ella Wiltbank as well as the most valuable player in senior Ashlynn Chlarson. Thatcher had seniors Haley Nicholas and Ashlynn Thompson and junior Macey Carter.

Third place Saint David had juniors Anissa Jacquez and Mayla Trejo, fourth place Safford seniors Brianna Camarena and Lexi Lucas, fifth place Miami junior Layla Thompson, sixth place Fort Thomas senior Aleena Gilbert, seventh place Morenci senior Mia Ontiveros, and eighth place Duncan sophomore Emily Kempton.

Trejo contributed 59 points and averaged 19.7 points per game, Chlarson (54, 18.0), Nicholas (47, 15.7), Jacquez (45, 15.0), Layla Thompson (43, 14.3), Gilbert (41, 13.7), Ashlin Thompson (37, 12.3), McClain (36, 12.0), Wiltbank (33, 11.0), both Camarena and Ontiveros (30, 10.0), Lucas (23, 7.7), Carter (22, 7.3), and Kempton (20, 3.7).

Jacquez, Lucas, Nicholas, and Ashlyn Thompson were also on the 2021 team. Thompson was also on the 2019 team.

Championship: Pima – 53, Thatcher – 42

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Ashlynn Chlarson (24) looks to score over Thatcher junior Macey Carter (23). The Pima senior contributed 11 of the teams’ initial 13 points, totaling 29 for the game. The two student-athletes both received all-tourney honors, with Chlarson tabbed the most valuable player. Pima prevailed 53-42 for the meet title.

Pima junior Lea Llamas scored four seconds after the opening tip, Thatcher senior Hailey Nicholas tied it with a pair of free throws 14 seconds later, and Pima senior Ashlynn Chlarson cemented her bid for most valuable player honors by adding the next 11 Roughriders’ points. The Eagles were unable to neutralize her during the rest of the game. Her game-high 29 points tied the offensive efforts of five others during the previous 45 meets and that of Fort Thomas senior Aleena Gilbert’s total two days prior.

Thatcher never led but fought back to trail by three, 13-16, following the first quarter. But, Pima went on a 16-3 second-quarter run with Chlarson adding half of the points and the Roughriders had a 2-to-1, 32-16, halftime advantage. The Eagles came within nine twice during the second half, 25-36 with 1:52 left in the third quarter and 37-46 with 3:10 left in the fourth quarter, but no closer.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Pima senior Jayci McClain (5) taps the ball away from Thatcher senior Ashlyn Thompson (32). McClain scored 11 points and Thompson nine. The two players were part of the all-tourney team.

Pima totaled 24 field goals (five 3-pointers) plus 0-5 free throws and Thatcher 13 field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 13-23 free throws.

Chlarson’s offensive output was on 14 field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 0-3 free throws and senior Jayci McClain had 11 on four field goals (one 3-pointer). Llamas added six points, sophomore Sadie Richardson three, and both junior Ella Wiltbank and sophomore Ady Hoopes two each.

For Thatcher, Nicholas had a team-high 14 points on three field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 7-8 free throws. Senior Ashlyn Thompson added nine points, junior Macey Carter eight, senior Jaiden Davis six, senior Makenzie Sweet four, and junior Emma Green one.

Pima (11-1 overall, 3-0 seeding, 2-0 region) visits Benson (12-4, 5-1, 2-1) for a region contest on Jan. 4. The Roy Corona-coached 2A East Region Roughriders are averaging a 51-23 (606-272) score per game or 28-point margin.

Thatcher (5-1, 3-0, 0-0) closes out December in the Epic Tourneys New Year’s Classic on the 28th – 30th before hosting Sierra Vista Buena (0-7, 0-7, 0-0) on Jan. 4. The 3A South Region Eagles are averaging a 61-27 (367-162) score per game or 34-point margin per game.

3rd Place: Saint David – 56, Safford – 24

Saint David junior Mayla Trejo scored from inside five seconds into the game (2-0), and from outside 1:25 later (5-0). The Tigers led 9-0 before Safford seniors Lexi Lucas and Brianna Camarena scored 41 seconds apart. The 5-point deficit (4-9) would be the closest the Bulldogs would come during the rest of the game.

The Tigers led 13-4 after the opening quarter, 28-13 at halftime, and 38-17 heading into the fourth quarter. The designated home team enjoyed its biggest margin with 2:17 remaining, 54-22.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Brianna Camarena (34) checks where her teammates are as she dribbles up court. The Safford senior led the team in scoring with 11 points and was selected all-tourney.

Saint David made 23 field goals (six 3-pointers) plus 4-5 free throws while Safford had 10 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 2-8 free throws.

Trejo tossed in a game-high 26 points on 11 field goals (four 3-pointers) and junior Anissa Jacquez 17 on seven field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 2-3 free throws. Freshman Emelynn Jacquez added seven points and sophomore Gracey Crockett, junior Halee Deskins, and senior Taylee Jacquez two apiece.

For Safford, Camarena had 11 points on four field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 1-3 free throws, and Lucas 10 on five field goals. Junior Camille Smith added two points and senior Brynzee Hansen one.

Trejo’s 26 points tied the offensive efforts of 11 previous participants scoring that amount. Her game-high 29 points during the first-round win over Miami tied five others from the prior 45 meets.

Tucson Tanque Verde (1-5, 1-5, 0-0) hosts Safford (4-10, 2-4, 0-0) for a region contest on Jan. 3. The Robert Abalos-coached 3A South Region Bulldogs have a 40-47 (556-662) score per game or 7-point deficit per game.

Elfrida Valley Union (1-5, 1-5, 0-0) visits Saint David (13-2, 6-1, 0-0) for a region contest on Jan. 4. The Matt Brogan-coached 1A Tucson Southeast Region Tigers are averaging a 57-30 (853-389) score per game or 27-point margin.

5th Place: Miami – 60, Fort Thomas – 51

Miami had a 7-0 advantage before Fort Thomas sophomore Jayla Wilson dialed long distance, getting the Apaches on the scoring column, with 2:35 elapsed in the game. The Apaches never led and the 4-point (3-7) deficit was the closest they would get. Miami led by as much as 16 (44-28) with 2:18 left in the third quarter, and the Apaches drew within seven (43-50) with 3:48 left to play, but no closer.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Fort Thomas senior Kenia McCabe (10) tries to tap the ball away from Miami sophomore Savannah Pietila (3). McCabe tallied 10 points while Pietila had 11.

The Vandals led by eight (20-12) after a quarter, by seven (31-24) at halftime, and by 12 (44-32) heading onto the fourth quarter.

For the game, the Vandals connected on 21 field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 15-20 free throws compared to 18 field goals (four 3-pointers) plus 11-23 free throws by the Apaches. Miami had four starters contribute double-digit scoring compared to three by Fort Thomas.

Miami junior Layla Thompson netted 22 points on six field goals plus 10-12 free throws, sophomore Demetria Dosela 14 on six field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 1-2 free throws, sophomore Savannah Pietila 11 on four field goals plus 3-4 free throws, and sophomore Areiana Brown 10 on four field goals (two 3-pointers). Senior Alene Roberts added two points and sophomore Leeyah Goss one.

The Fort got 13 points from junior Tyesha Wilson on four field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 3-4 free throws, 10 from senior Kenia McCabe on four field goals plus 2-5 free throws, and 10 from Jayla Wilson on four field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 0-2 free throws. Freshman Kaylee Benally added six points, senior Aleena Gilbert five, freshman Makayla Chapman four, senior McKenna Rogers two, and senior Haleigh Kitcheyan one.

Miami (7-5, 4-2, 1-1) closes out December in the Epic Tourneys New Year’s Classic on the 28th – 30th before visiting San Carlos (15-1, 9-0, 2-0) for a region contest on Jan. 3. The Crystal Pietila-coached 2A Valley Region Vandals have a 43-25 (521-303) score per game or an 18-point margin per game.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Kerstynn Bryce (LEFT) takes an elbow to the chin as she defends Demetria Dosela (34). The Miami sophomore scored 14 points as the Vandals downed Fort Thomas 60-51 to finish fifth.

Fort Thomas (12-4, 6-1, 0-1) hosts Winkelman Hayden (1-12, 1-4, 0-1) on Jan. 4. The Lee Haws-coached 2A Copper Region Apaches are averaging a 50-35 (797-564) score per game or 15-point margin.

7th Place: Morenci – 49, Duncan – 30

Morenci led 5-4 following the opening quarter and Duncan had a 9-8 effort to tie 13-13 at halftime.

Senior Keirah Chee made the second of two free throw attempts to give the Wildcats a 23-22 edge with 1:29 left in the third quarter. The lead was not relinquished during the remainder of the game.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Mia Ontiveros (13) caught up to Duncan freshman Brendy Paz (4) during the 7th-place game. Paz made 5-12 fourth-quarter free throws while Ontiveros had 13 points. The Wildcats prevailed 49-30 over Duncan and the Morenci senior was selected to the all-tourney team.

Five different Wildcats accounted for the 15-9 third-quarter offensive effort. It allowed Morenci to start the fourth quarter ahead 28-22. The Wildcats had a 20-point (42-22) advantage by the time their southern Greenlee County opponent scored.

Three Duncan starters watched from the bench, seated with five fouls apiece, as 1-2 free throws went in with 3:51 left to play. Eighteen of the 20 free throws attempted by the Wildkats were in the fourth quarter. Eight went in.

For the game, Morenci connected on 19 field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 8-20 free throws while Duncan made 10 field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 9-20 free throws.

Senior Mia Ontiveros contributed 13 points on six field goals plus 1-2 free throws, Chee 11 on three field goals plus 5-10 free throws, and senior Cambri McCauley 10 on five field goals plus 0-2 free throws. Junior Elena Leonard added six points, and junior Ciantae Dosela, plus freshmen Adriana Carbajal and Rozlyn Funari three apiece.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Emily Kempton (14) goes up for a shot attempt against Morenci. The Duncan sophomore drew her fifth personal 45 seconds into the fourth quarter. She paced Wildkats scorers with nine points and was selected to the all-tourney team.

For Duncan, junior Emily Kempton had nine points, senior Kaylee Kempton eight, freshman Brendy Paz five, senior Ariel Harrington and junior Aubrey Evans three each, and Camille Miller two.

Morenci (4-5, 3-3, 2-1) closes out December in the Hopper’s Paradise Tourney on the 28th – 29th before hosting Eagar Round Valley (6-5, 3-2, 1-1) on Jan. 3. The 2A East Region Wildcats are averaging a 44-52 (393-468) score per game or an 8-point deficit.

Duncan (4-10, 3-4, 0-0) visits Tucson’s The Gregory School (1-9, 0-7, 0-1) for a region contest on Jan. 5. The Eldon Merrell-coached 1A Tucson Southeast Region Wildkats are averaging a 27-38 (374-538) score per game or 11-point deficit.

Girls Eastern Arizona Holiday Tourney History

Beginning as a four-team, two-day meet with two games each day during the nation’s 1976 Bicentennial year, the ensuing 45 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.

Three championship games have needed an extra period to decide the outcome. Safford topped Pima by six (52-46) in 1991 (16th), Thatcher slipped past Safford by five (47-42) in 2002 (27th), and Fort Thomas defeated Pima by five (60-55) in 2005 (30th).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Area official Vince Greer indicates a full-time out during one of the games he called.

Safford is 96-40 (.706) overall in 46 tourneys, playing only two games in the 1998 meet because the seventh place game was not held; Thatcher 93-44 (.679) in 46 tourneys; Duncan 55-80 (.407) in 45 tourneys; Pima 72-57 (.558) and Fort Thomas 62-67 (.481) in 43 tourneys, Morenci 60-65 (.480) in 42 tourneys, Miami 5-13 (.278) in six tourneys, and Saint David 3-3 (.500) in two tourneys.

Ten other teams have also participated, Willcox 52-81 (.391) in 44 tourneys, shuttered Clifton 19-72 (.209) in 31 tourneys; New Mexico Cliff 9-6 (.600) in five tourneys; Globe and San Carlos both 5-1 (.833) and San Simon 1-5 (.167), each in two tourneys; and Ajo 1-2 (.333), Eagar Round Valley 1-2 (.333), New Mexico Bayard Cobre 1-2 (.333), and Tucson Green Fields Country Day School 0-3, in one tourney apiece.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Layla Thompson (24) sights in the basket as she attempts a free throw. The Miami junior sank 10-12 against Fort Thomas after making 7-18 during the prior two games. She was selected for the all-tourney team.

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 won back-to-back in 1990-91 (15th-16th), and once six times, in 1977 (2nd), in 1980 (5th), in 1994 (19th), in 1996 (21st), in 2009 (34th), in 2011 (36th); Thatcher 12-11 with the meet record for most consecutive title wins, seven from 1997-2003 (22nd-28th), back-to-back twice, in 1981-82 (6th-7th) and in 1997-98 (22nd-23rd), and once in 2010 (35th); Pima 5-8, winning back-to-back twice in 1992-93 (17th-18th) and in 2021-22 (45th, 46th), and once in 2008 (33rd); Morenci 3-6, winning in 1976 (1st), in 1978 (3rd), and in 2007 (32nd); Duncan 2-3, winning in 1995 (20th) and in 2012 (37th); and Fort Thomas 2-3, winning back-to-back in 2005-06 (30th-31st).

Six other finalists have six titles between them. Willcox is 3-2, winning back-to-back in 1988-89 (17th-18th, 4th); Globe (29th) and San Carlos (44th) are both 1-1; Cliff 1-0 (38th); and both Clifton and Round Valley 0-1 in the championship games.