Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Hannah Silvester (12) checks defenders while dribbling up-court against Amphitheater on Jan. 16. The Mustangs prevailed 55-30 in the 4A Gila Region pairing on MLK Day in Mckale Center, moving them to second in the standings. Sahuarita also defeated Rio Rico 66-34 (Jan. 17) and has region members Walden Grove (Jan. 19), Douglas (Jan. 23), Mica Mountain (Jan. 26), Amphitheater (Jan. 30), and Rio Rico (Feb. 2) left. The senior guard attended Morenci as a freshman and sophomore student, twice earning varsity letters in basketball and softball plus one in cross country.
By Raymundo Frasquillo
TUCSON – The Eddie Ortiz-coached 4A Sahuarita Mustangs left Mckale Center with a 55-30 Gila Region win over the Tucson Amphitheater Panthers on Jan. 16. It was the initial pairing kicking off the 8-game MLK Basketball Classic, in its 19th year honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The all-day event includes teams from Southern Arizona, not just from Tucson.
“We’ve had Nogales, Rio Rico, and Baboquivari some years,” MLK Co-Chair Brian Wilson said. The Safford boys participated last year, falling 53-62 to Tanque Verde in a 3A South Region pairing.
“Ninety percent of kids have never attended a game in this facility,” Coaches for Charity Vice-Chair Janet Hare said. It is an exciting day of basketball and a great experience for boys and girls teams to play in a first-class venue.
In other high school girls games held on the University of Arizona campus facility, Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge defeated Marana Mountain View 63-34 in a 5A Southern Region pairing, Tucson Sunnyside defeated Tucson Rincon 43-34 in a 6A South Region pairing, and Tucson Sahuaro defeated Tucson Salpointe Catholic 46-31 in a 4A Kino Region pairing.
The boys games saw 1A Tucson Northwest Region The Gregory School defeat 2A South Region Tucson Saint Augustine Catholic 62-35, Thatcher defeated Tucson Sabino 80-70 in a 3A South Region pairing, Tucson defeated Marana 56-38 in a 6A South Region pairing, and Tucson Catalina Foothills defeat Tucson Cholla 54-37 in a 5A Southern Region pairing.
Prior to tip-off, the No. 26 Mustangs averaged a 52-39 (733-546) score per game or a 13-point margin while the No. 39 Panthers averaged a 40-39 (837-819) score per game or a 1-point margin. The next day rankings vaulted both teams, the Mustangs to No. 24 and the Panthers to No. 37.
Graham County’s Safford met both Pima County teams, falling 46-52 to the Mustangs in Sahuarita (Dec. 2) and defeating Amphitheater 57-38 in Norma Bellamy Gymnasium (Jan. 13).
Sahuarita – 55, Amphitheater – 30
A free throw, the second of two by Sahuarita sophomore CamilaVillalobos and by Amphitheater freshman Monica Verrett, forced the initial tie at 1-1 early in the game. The first two field goals, by Sahuarita sophomore Emma Benitez with 2:50 elapsed and by Verrett 1:28 later, provided the game’s final tie at 3-3.
Sahuarita took the lead for good on freshman Arianna Ganillo’s field goal (5-3) with 2:12 left in the first quarter. Junior Sienna Paz added a third field goal (7-3) 43 seconds later, and Verrett added another field goal paring the deficit to two (7-5) with 47 seconds left.
Four different Mustangs combined for 14 unanswered points on posting a 21-5 advantage with 1:34 left in the second quarter. Verrett added 1-2 free throws 13 seconds later as the 21-6 halftime score favored Sahuarita. The Mustangs twice led by 23 points, 29-6 at 6:30 and 33-10 with 4:07 left in the third quarter.
Sahuarita led 38-19 heading into the fourth quarter and senior Hannah Silvester’s 3-pointer with three seconds remaining completed the scoring.
“She (Silvester) plays very good defense,” the second-year Sahuarita head coach said. “I wish I had more like her.”
“It was a hard transition for me,” Silvester said, “coming from a smaller school. It’s more competition, a greater opportunity, and I’m happy.”
Silvester earned five varsity letters during her freshman and sophomore years attending Morenci, twice in basketball and softball plus one in cross country.
For the game, Sahuarita totaled 20 field goals (eight 3-pointers) plus 7-10 free throws compared to 11 field goals (four 3-pointers) plus 4-17free throws by Amphitheater.
Nine different Mustangs contributed to the scoring total. Paz netted a team-high 11 points on four field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 2-2 free throws. Benitez and Ganillo both added eight points, senior Brianna Pollard seven, junior Kealey Myhre and Villalobos six apiece, senior Alize Grijalva four, Silvester three, and freshman Jocelyn Ortega two. Juniors Emaree Key and Karol Ortiz, sophomore Angela Stinnett, and freshman Angel Amarillas did not score.
Myhre notched 8-28 rebounds and 3-13 steals; Benitez and Grijalva had three assists apiece; and Amarillas, Myhre, and Paz each blocked a shot.
Five Panthers scored, with freshman Kayla Tuakalau posting a game-high 15 points on five field goals (four 3-pointers) plus 1-4 free throws. Verrett added eight points, sophomore Kiara Waters three, and both juniors Shanise Bustamante and Anika Waters two each. Senior Karma Royal, juniors Hannah Harding, Christina Sengal, Tireza Sengal, and Danielle Tuaklau did not score.
4A Gila Region Standings
Region standings through Jan. 18 were Tucson Mica Mountain (12-9overall, 8-5 seeding, 5-0 region), Sahuarita (17-6, 7-5, 3-1), Rio Rico (10-10, 7-5, 3-2), Douglas (12-11, 5-8, 2-3), Tucson Amphitheater (11-10, 3-7, 0-3), and Sahuarita Waldon Grove (4-14, 3-9, 0-4).
Mica Mountain (5-0) has region wins of 51-37 over Rio Rico (Jan. 3), 64-34 over Amphitheater (Jan. 5), 56-48 over Sahuarita (Jan. 9), 69-11 over Walden Grove (Jan. 12), and 73-63 in overtime over Douglas (Jan. 17); Sahuarita (3-1) region wins of 52-48 over Douglas (Jan. 5), 57-21 over Walden Grove (Jan. 11), and 55-34 over Rio Rico (Jan. 17); Rio Rico (3-2) region wins of 45-32 over Amphitheater (Jan. 9), 56-25 over Walden Grove (Jan. 10) and 65-51 over Douglas (Jan. 11); and Douglas (2-2) region wins of 39-33 over Amphitheater (Jan. 3) and 72-18 over Walden Grove (Jan. 5); and Amphitheater was at Walden Grove on Jan. 17.
The remaining games for region members include five for Douglas, Mica Mountain, Sahuarita, and Walden Grove, each region contests; and six for Amphitheater and Rio Rico, five in region pairings.
During Gila Region play this week (Jan. 16-21), No. 32 Douglas visits No. 37 Amphitheater, No. 19 Tucson Mica Mountain visits No. 25 Rio Rico, and No. 40 Walden Grove visits No. 24 Sahuarita on Thursday, Jan. 19.
In non-region pairings, 5A No. 43 Tucson Desert View visits Amphitheater on Friday, Jan. 20.
Next week (Jan. 23-28), Sahuarita visits Douglas on Jan. 23; Amphitheater visits Mica Mountain, and Walden Grove visits Rio Rico on Jan. 24; and Douglas visits Walden Grove, Mica Mountain visitsSahuarita, and Rio Rico visits Amphitheater on Jan. 26. Rio Rico visits Salpointe Catholic for a non-region pairing on Jan. 23.
The following week, Amphitheater visits Sahuarita, Mica Mountain visits Walden Grove, and Rio Rico visits Douglas on Jan. 30; Walden Grove visits Amphitheater on Feb. 1; Sahuarita visits Rio Rico on Feb. 2; and Douglas visits Mica Mountain on Feb. 3.
Mica Mountain (8-5 seeding, 2.8566 rating) was ranked 19th, Sahuarita (8-5, 1.4358) 23rd, Rio Rico (7-5, minus 0.8165) 26th, Douglas (5-8, minus 3.9848) 32nd, Amphitheater (3-8, minus 7.0936) 37th, and Walden Grove (3-9, minus 9.7567) 40th.
4A State Rankings
The statewide rankings heading into the weekend on Jan. 18 had the Desert Sky Region with 5-6 (.833) teams in the Top 24, the Kino Region with 4-5 (.800), the Grand Canyon Region with 5-7 (.714), the West Valley Region with 4-6 (.667), the East Sky Region with 3-6 (.500), both the Gila and Skyline Regions with 2-6 (.333), and the Black CanyonRegion with none of six.
Desert Sky Region Chandler Seton Catholic (11-0 seeding, 28.0443rating) was first, Desert Sky Region Gilbert Mesquite (9-2, 14.7947)second, Kino Region Tucson Salpointe Catholic (9-2, 14.0294) third, Black Canyon Region Flagstaff (9-2, 13.7517) fourth, West Valley Region Phoenix Deer Valley (9-2, 10.9446) fifth, Kino Region Tucson Pueblo (11-2, 10.8108) sixth, Desert Sky Region Scottsdale Saguaro (8-3, 10.2337) seventh, Kino Region Tucson Flowing Wells (12-2, 9.8904) eighth, KinoRegion Tucson Sahuaro (11-2, 9.8860) ninth, and Black Canyon Region Kingman Lee Williams (9-1, 8.7878) 10th.
West Valley Region Goodyear Estrella Foothills (9-2, 8.2149) was 11th, East Sky Region San Tan Valley Poston Butte (8-3, 7.6648) 12th, SkylineRegion Phoenix Thunderbird (10-2, 7.1316) 13th, West Valley Region Glendale Peoria (8-3, 6.0662) 14th, Desert Sky Region Scottsdale Arcadia(7-3, 5.8037) 15th, Black Canyon Region Flagstaff Coconino (7-2, 5.0097) 16th, East Sky Region Chandler Arizona College Prep (8-4, 3.9533) 17th, West Valley Region Avondale Agua Fria (7-4, 3.0258) 18th, Gila Region Mica Mountain (8-5, 2.8566) 19th, and Black Canyon Region Cottonwood Mingus Union (7-4, 2.1775) 20th.
Skyline Region Surprise Paradise Honors (5-6, 2.0714) was 21st, East Sky Region Mesa Eastmark (6-4, 2.0602) 22nd, Gila Region Sahuarita (8-5, 1.4358) 23rd, and Desert Sky Region Phoenix Saint Mary’s (4-7, 1.4339) 24th.