Wildcats come up short in home region contest against Bobcats

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Junior guard Desiree Babb finds an open teammate and readies a pass to her. She finished with 11 points against Benson on Tuesday, but the Bobcats prevailed 47-38.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – The Morenci Wildcats came up short in the region contest with Benson on Tuesday, falling 47-38. The Wildcats returned from the reconfigured Globe Invitational with a 2-2 record Jan. 4.

“It was originally a three-day meet with 16 teams, but four dropped out and it was shortened to two days,” said Morenci head coach Albert Ortega. The additional court time for less experienced players was achieved.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior Rhiannon Lang is stripped of a rebound by a Benson defender during the first half.

The Wildcats fell 57-30 to 4A Douglas and 55-32 to 3A San Tan Valley American Leadership – Ironwood on Jan. 3 plus downed 1A Superior 52-18 and 3A San Tan Foothills 44-29 on Jan. 4.

Morenci (7-8 overall, 4-4 seeding, 1.3093 rating, 3-3 region) visits No. 32 Willcox (4-12, 2-7, minus 5.6890, 1-5) on Friday, Jan. 11 before welcoming No. 25 Pima (7-9, 3-6, minus 2.4281, 3-3) on Tuesday, Jan. 15.

Benson – 47, Morenci – 38

The Wildcats outscored the Bobcats 25-24 in the second half but were unable to completely erase the opening-period deficit. Benson led 15-8 following the opening period, 23-13 at halftime, and 30-28 heading into the final period.

Morenci came within three points late in the game, but no closer. The Wildcats had trouble defending two Bobcats and making free throws, connecting on only 40 percent (16-40) of them.

Benson’s Kaysen Maakestad made five of the seven first period field goals, largely from the low post. She was limited to four the rest of the game. Emily Darwin scored five field goals through the first three periods and five in the final period.

The Wildcats totaled 10 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 16-40 free throws versus 20 field goals plus 7-27 free throws by the Bobcats.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci freshman Zenayah Cortez battles for a rebound against Benson.

Juniors Desiree Babb and Brigid Silvester both contributed 11 points, on one field goal plus 9-16 free throws and on four field goals plus 3-7 free throws, respectively. Senior faith Hood added five points, senior Rhiannon Lang and sophomore Destanee Marquez four apiece, freshman Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar three.

Benson got 22 points from Darwin on 10 field goals plus 2-11 free throws and Maakestad 20 on nine field goals plus 2-10 free throws. Jennifer Barker and Shaylin Taylor added two points apiece and Taylor Fenn one.

Morenci – 44, San Tan Foothills – 29

Morenci had a 12-6 advantage following the opening period, led 22-15 at halftime and 35-22 heading into the final period.

The Wildcats tallied 18 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 6-14 free throws compared to nine field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 8-19 free throws by the Sabercats.

Silvester contributed 13 points on five field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 1-2 free throws. Lang and Marquez added eight points apiece, Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar seven, Heather Lee four, sophomore Kayla O’Connell two, and Babb and freshman Zenayah Cortez one each.

The Sabercats got 11 points from Bogay and 10 from senior Carrington Thompson, on four field goals plus 3-6 free throws and on three field goals plus 4-6 free throws, respectively. Junior Livvy Shippy and sophomore Morgan Tomkins added three points apiece.

Morenci – 52, Superior – 18

Morenci scored in double figures during three of four periods compared to single digits in four periods by Superior. The Wildcats led 16-5 after the first period, 31-13 at halftime, and 43-13 at the start of the fourth period.

Twenty four field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 3-9 free throws were made by the Wildcats versus eight field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 0-4 free throws by the Panthers.

Twelve of the 14-member team scored, but none in double figures. Sophomore Candace Forgach-Aguilar and Silvester both added eight points, Lang seven, senior Reona Alvarez five, Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar, Babb, Cortez, and junior Sarina Robledo four apiece, and Hood, Lee, freshman Devonee Medina, and junior Yrliana Molina two each. Marquez went 0-2 from the free throw line.

For Superior, freshman Arianna Contreras added five points, senior Anisah Cardenas and junior Marlee Estatico four each, sophomore Leanna Hughes three, and sophomore Delores Ramirez two. Junior Elizabeth Valdez and sophomore Aubrianna Duarte went 0-2 from the free throw line.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Junior Brigid Silvester dribbles around Benson defender Kaysen Maakestad en route to the basket. Silvester scored 11 points while Maakestad had 20.

American Leadership Ironwood – 55, Morenci – 42

The Wildcats led 15-12 following the opening period and had a 13-11 final period outing, but were outscored a combined 32-14 in the second and third periods to trail 44-29 at the start of the fourth period.

Cortez netted a team-high 10 points on four field goals plus 2-3 free throws. Silvester added eight points, Babb seven, Lee five, Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar and Marquez four apiece, Hood three, and Candace Forgach-Aguilar one. O’Connell went 0-2 from the free throw line.

For the Warriors, junior Miracle Brown-Jeter had 18 points on eight field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 1-4 free throws and sophomore Giselle Rodriguez 14 on four field goals plus 6-8 free throws. Junior Kylee Van Wormer added seven points, junior Liberty McGhan six, sophomore Valerie Becarra five, junior Christine Taylor and sophomore Nancy Rodriguez two apiece, and sophomore Autumn Moe one.

Douglas – 57, Morenci – 30

Morenci trailed 20-10 following the opening period, 38-16 at halftime, and 51-26 heading into the fourth period.

The Wildcats totaled 12 field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 5-8 free throws versus 25 field goals (seven 3-pointers) plus 4-11 free throws by the Bulldogs.

Silvester had a team-high 10 points on four field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 1-2 free throws. Cortez and Lee added six points apiece, Candace Forgach-Aguilar, Babb, Lang, and Molina two apiece. Alvarez went 0-2 from the free throw line.

For the Bulldogs, senior Ximena Iniguez tallied a game-high 21 points on seven field goals (five 3-pointers) plus 2-2 free throws and junior Alondra Lugo 14 on six field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 1-5 free throws. Senior Carina Jaramillo added six points, senior Michelle Maytorena and Clarissa Jaramillo five apiece, sophomore Ayslin Talavera four, and senior Sheyla Villa two.

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