Wildcats, Tigers open area boys holiday tourney

Ray Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Safford left Guitteau Gymnasium with the first-place trophy of the boys 55th annual Eastern Arizona Holiday Tourney. The Bulldogs downed Duncan 74-32 in round one, Thatcher 73-53 in the semifinals, and Pima 58-50 in the final. Members of the Terry Williams-coached team were, not in order, Stratton Baldwin, A.J. Camarena, Marcus Castro, Jejdrique Chavez, Drew Cochran, Epoch Frye, Dominic Gutierrez, Hunter Mullins, Andrew Smith, Lane Smith, and Collin Thompson.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

Second-seed Morenci and seventh seed St. David open the boys 56th annual Eastern Arizona Holiday Tournament in Guitteau Gymnasium, beginning Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. The Eastern Arizona College-held meet features eight teams with 12 games in three days.

Top-seed Safford, winner ofthe previous four meets, tips off against eighth-seed Willcox in the second game of the first session, at 2:30 p.m.

Third-seed Thatcher meets sixth-seed Duncan at 6:30 p.m., and fourth-seed Pima takes on fifth-seed Fort Thomas at 8 p.m. in the second session.

The consolation round games are at 1 and 2:30 p.m., while the semifinals are at 6:30 and 8 p.m. Dec. 18. The final round on Dec. 19 has the seventh place game at 1 p.m., the third place game at 2:30 p.m., the fifth place game at 6:30 p.m., and the championship game at 8 p.m.

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Pima Class of 2018 member Andrew Taylor (4) leaps up to make a pass over Safford 2019 Dominic Gutierrez (12). The Bulldogs turned a 14-13 opening period edge into a 58-50 win and the tourney title. Neither guard scored. Taylor was selected to the all-tourney team.

Morenci (7-3 overall, 5-1 seeding record, 4-0 2A East Region) has averaged a score of 59-44 (594-440) per game or a margin of 15 points. The Wildcats’ wins are 76-47 over Bullhead City Mohave (Nov. 23), 66-51 over Surprise Horizon Honors (Nov. 23), 63-23 at Kearny Ray (Nov. 27), 59-56 at Thatcher (Nov. 30), 70-50 over Bisbee (Dec. 1), 60-32 over Willcox (Dec. 4), and 37-25 at Pima (Dec. 15). The losses were 63-49 to Tucson Sabino (Nov. 24), 75-67 to Globe (Nov. 24), and 59-47 at New Mexico Silver (Dec. 13).

St. David (3-2, 3-2, 3-0 1A South Region) averaged a score of 60.8-60.6 (304-303) or a margin of 0.02 per game. The Tigers’ three wins were on the road over region foes, 62-57 at Sells Baboquivari (Dec. 10), 63-50 over Tucson Arizona School for the Deaf and the Blind (Dec. 11), and 63-54 over Tucson Immaculate Heart (Dec. 13). The losses were 65-64 to Tombstone (Nov. 27) and 77-52 at Fort Thomas (Nov. 30).

Safford (6-2, 3-1, 0-0 3A South Region) has averaged a score of 69-59 (554-471) per game or a margin of 10 points. The Bulldogs have defeated Douglas 74-56 (Nov. 20), Thatcher 65-62 (Nov. 28), Snowflake 77-73 (Dec. 4), Eagar Round Valley 65-32 (Dec. 13), Holbrook 62-57 (Dec. 13), and Heber Mogollon (Dec. 14). The losses have been 84-83 to Florence (Nov. 29) and 71-54 to Whiteriver Alchesay (Dec. 14).

Willcox (1-6, 1-6, 0-4 2A East Region) has a 45-63 (318-442) average score or a deficit of 18 points per game. The Cowboys downed the Cougars 62-39 at Bowie / San Simon (Nov. 29) while the losses were 46-33 to Tucson Desert Christian (Nov. 27), 91-63 to Globe (Nov.30), 60-32 at Morenci (Dec. 4), 77-38 at Thatcher (Dec. 11), 61-37 to Pima (Dec. 12), and 68-53 to Benson (Dec. 14).

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Fort Thomas 2020 Skylar Kindelay (14) looks to pass the ball as he steps into the top of the key with a pair of Eagles, 2019 members Matthew Palmer (25) and Cole Motes (35), on his heels. Kindelay netted 19 points, and both Eagles 15 during the third place game. Motes and Palmer were both selected to the all-tourney team.

Pima (6-5, 5-3, 4-1 2A East Region) has averaged a score of 52-41 (567-447) per game or a margin of 11 points. The Roughriders have wins of 44-35 at Fort Thomas (Nov. 20), 67-40 at Bisbee (Nov. 27), 58-33 over Tombstone (Dec. 3), 69-38 over Benson (Dec. 4), 60-41 over Payson (Dec. 7), and 61-37 at Willcox (Dec. 12). The losses have been 61-54 at Scottsdale Christian (Dec. 1), 67-46 to Tolleson (Dec. 6), 55-47 to Cottonwood Mingus (Dec. 8), 40-35 to Show Low (Dec. 11), and 37-25 to Morenci (Dec. 15).

Fort Thomas (5-2, 5-2, 0-0 1A East Region) averaged a score of 61-45 (427-316) or a margin of 16 points pergame. The Apaches have wins of 77-52 over St. David (Nov. 30), 60-37 at Kearny Ray (Dec. 4), 64-36 at San Carlos (Dec. 6), 78-49 over Cibecue (Dec. 7),and 55-37 over Duncan (Dec. 11). The losses were 44-35 to Pima (Nov 20) and 61-58 to Patagonia (Nov. 27).

Thatcher (4-3, 4-3, 3-1 2A East Region) has averaged a score of 69-56 per game or a margin of 13 points. The Eagles’ wins are 58-30 at Tombstone (Dec. 1), 84-50 at Bisbee (Dec. 4), 73-58 at Florence (Dec. 6), and 77-38 over Willcox (Dec. 11). The losses have been 65-62 to Safford (Nov. 28), 59-56 to Morenci (Nov. 30), and 93-70 to Lakeside Blue Ridge (Dec. 13).

Duncan (6-2, 6-2, 1-0 1A East Region) averaged a score of 66-41 (526-329) or a margin of 25 points per game.The Wildkats topped Valley Union 58-23 in Elfrida (Nov. 26), Bowie / San Simon 83-51 (Nov. 27), Hayden 66-38 in Winkelman (Dec. 4), the Academy of Tucson 94-38 (Dec. 6), North Phoenix Prep 70-30 (Dec. 14), and New Mexico Animas 63-29 (Dec. 15). The losses have been 65-55 at Cibecue (Dec. 8) and 55-37 at Fort Thomas (Dec. 11).

2017 tourney results

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Safford 2019 guard Andrew Smith looks over the defense before deciding on how to attack it. He was selected all-tourney.

Last season, third-seeded Safford had its say in the outcome of the 55th annual Eastern Arizona Holiday Tournament. The Bulldogs upset top-seed Pima 58-50 for the meet title.

Safford topped sixth-seed Duncan 74-32 in the first round and upset second-seed Thatcher 73-53 in the semifinals. Pima reached the championship game with wins of 66-31 over eighth-seed Willcox in the first round and 60-21 over fifth-seed Fort Thomas in the semifinals.

Fort Thomas upset Thatcher 69-57 for third place, fourth-seed Morenci downed Duncan 50-44 for fifth place, and Willcox upset seventh-seed St. David 46-42 for seventh place.

Advancing in the consolation round were Morenci and Duncan, with wins of 67-35 over Willcox and 72-42 over St. David, respectively.

The other first-round winners were Fort Thomas (67-57 over Morenci) and Thatcher (71-28 over St. David).

All-tourney team

Safford Class of 2019 guard Andrew Smith (36 points, 12.0 points per game) and 2021 forward Collin Thompson (45 pts., 15.0 ppg) along with Pima 2019 forward Dawson Pruszynski (54 pts.,18.0 ppg) and 2018 guards Andrew Taylor (12 pts., 4.0 ppg) and Trey Thompson (42pts., 14.0 ppg) were selected to the all-tourney team.

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Selected to the 14-member 55th annual EAC Holiday All-Tourney Team were, front, from left, Trey Thompson and Andrew Taylor of Pima; back, from left, Drew Cochran and Andrew Smith of Safford, Dawson Pruszynski of Pima, Collin Thompson of Safford, Cole Motes and Matt Palmer of Thatcher, Malachi Rogers and Kobe Talgo of Fort Thomas, Jordan Leonard of Morenci, and Braden Basteen of Duncan. Not pictured James Mayberry of St. David and Kade Norris of Willcox.

Bulldogs 2019 forward Drew Cochran (47 pts., 15.7 ppg) was named most valuable player.

The rest of the all-tourney team included Fort Thomas 2018 forward Kobe Talgo (57 pts., 19.0 ppg) and 2021 guard Malachi Rogers (25 pts., 8.3 ppg), Thatcher 2019 forward Cole Motes (47 pts.,15.7 ppg) and guard Matthew Palmer (23 pts., 7.7 ppg), Morenci 2019 guard Jordan Leonard (64 pts., 21.3 ppg), Duncan 2018 forward Braden Basteen (33 pts., 11.0 ppg), Willcox 2018 center Kade Norris (37 pts., 12.3 ppg), and St. David 2018 post James Mayberry (43 pts., 14.3 ppg).

Talgo and Pruszynski were also on the 2016 all-tourney team.

Tourney Records

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci 2019 guard Jordan Leonard gets around Duncan 2019 guard Michael Lennon during the fifth place game. Leonard tied two single meet game scoring records, the fourth player to get seven 3-pointers and the 21st to end with 28 points, and was selected to the all-tourney team. Lennon had six points.

It was the top-seeded Bulldogs’ 20th tourney championship game appearance, the ninth title, and the second win in three championship pairings with the Roughriders. Safford won two in a row twice, in 1984-85 (9th-10th) and in 2003-04 (41st-42nd).

Pima is 7-5 in title games,with a meet record five straight wins from 1970-74 (8th-12th). The Roughriders have participated in each of the previous 55 meets, while Safford did not enter the first 11. Pima has an 83-80 overall record and Safford 89-41.

It was the third straight year with the same eight teams. Pima is 8-1; Safford 7-2; Fort Thomas, Morenci, and Thatcher 5-4 apiece; and Duncan, St. David, and Willcox each 2-7 in the same three-year span.

Beginning as a six-team, two-day meet with two games on the first day and five on the second day, the ensuing 54 tourneys included eight teams with four games each in three days, unless a last minute cancelation occurred, and one team ended with three wins, three 2-1, three 1-2, and one 0-3. Sierra Vista Buena topped Duncan 87-63 for the title, Clifton edged Fort Thomas 68-66 for third place, and Thatcher slipped past Pima 50-46 in overtime for fifth place.

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Chris Leonard of Morenci (2018) gets past Wesley Conyer of Duncan (2019) for a third period field goal. Conyer ended with seven points.

Sixteen teams have participated in the 21st-century tourneys. In those 18 meets, Thatcher is 41-12 with only two games played in 2001, Safford 40-14, Pima 27-27, Willcox 23-31, Duncan 20-34, and Fort Thomas 16-38. Morenci is 16-17 in 11 tourneys (45th-55th), Clifton 5-16 in seven (38th-44th), Holbrook 14-4 in six (42nd-47th), St. David 2-10 in four (41st, 53rd-55th), Tucson Tanque Verde 4-5 in three (50th-52nd), and five one-time entrants, Mexico Academia Juarez 2-1 (38th), Globe 2-1 (48th), Payson 2-1 (40th), Benson 1-2 (48th), and Bowie 0-3 (41st).

Three other teams have been in all 55 meets. Thatcher is 107-53 (two games in 1963, 1967, 1973, 1979), Fort Thomas 75-89, and Duncan 69-75 (two games in 1998).

Willcox is 60-67 in 39meets (14th-19th, 23rd-55th), Morenci 55-40 in 35 (4th-7th, 18th-37th, 45th-55th), and St. David 2-10 in four (41st, 53rd-55th).

A total of 28 different schools have been represented in the 55 meets. Clifton ended 41-89 in 44 (1st-44th), Eagar Round Valley 11-7 in six (6th, 10th, 15th-16th, 20th-21st), Bowie 1-14 in five (2nd-3rd, 9th-10th, 41st), Sahuarita 4-8 in four (8th-11th), Kearny Ray 8-1 in three (2nd-4th), Winkelman Hayden 6-3 in three (5th-7th), New Mexico Lordsburg 3-6 in three (7th-9th), Elfrida Valley Union 2-7 in three (3rd, 12th-13th), Show Low 2-7 in three (12th-13th, 22nd), Superior 4-2 in two (2nd, 4th), Buena 3-0 in one (1st), Tombstone 3-0 in one (14th), San Simon 2-1in one (8th), and Apache Junction 0-2 in one (11th).

Tourney Individual Records

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Fort Thomas 2020 guard Malachi Rogers (10) uses a jab-step and head fake to move Thatcher 2021 guard Michael Greer (21) away from where he wanted to go. Rogers had 16 points and Greer five in the third place game. Rogers was selected to the all-tourney team.

Kobe Talgo’s 31 points for Fort Thomas during the 67-57 game 4 first-round win over Morenci elevated him with nine others who reached that mark, the first being Pima’s Mark McBride during the 60-49 game 4 first-round win over Morenci in the 4th meet and the last Duncan’s Daniel Corona during the 54-53 consolation round win over Willcox in the 52nd meet.

Frank Campos of Superior has scored the single game most points, 47 during a 70-72 loss to Kearny Ray in the game 3 first round of the 4th meet and three others have scored 42 or more points.

The 28 points scored by Morenci’s Jordan Leonard in the fifth place game with Duncan tied 20 other individual efforts for the same amount; the first by Clifton’s Karl Shade during a 68-66 third-place win in the first meet and the last by Duncan’s Jason Attaway during a 65-73 semifinal loss to Thatcher in the 34th meet.

Leonard’s seven 3-pointers during the 57-67 first-round loss to Fort Thomas tied three other efforts, Morenci’s Jeremy Vanegas during the 26th tourney seventh place 54-53 win over Duncan, Clifton’s Marc Cueto during the 33rd third place 67-76 loss to Fort Thomas, and Holbrook’s Kory Koerperich during the 46th game 2 first-round 75-67 win over Duncan.

Thatcher’s Carson Goodman holds the single game most 3-pointers scored, eight during a game 2 first-round 58-37 win over Fort Thomas in the 52nd meet.

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