Wildcats venture to Roughrider Country on Friday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci junior Derek Saenz goes down to get a loose ball against Bisbee sophomore Jose Mendez. The visiting Pumas left Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium with a 62-57 region win. Morenci is at Pima and Bisbee at Tombstone for a second region contest on Friday, Jan. 14.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

PIMA – The Cliff Thompson-coached Pima Roughriders welcome Morenci for both teams’ second 2A East Region pairing on Friday, Jan. 14. The Roughriders already have a 36-point win over the Wildcats earlier in the season. Bisbee is at Tombstone in the other region pairing.

Morenci had an 8-member roster suited up for its region opener, a closing seconds’ 57-62 home loss to Bisbee on Jan. 11. The teams tipped off as No. 19 at No. 10, but after the contest was ranked No. 11 and No. 18 on the following day.

Other region openers resulted in wins for No. 5 Willcox (67-51 over No. 39 Tombstone) and No. 9 Pima (72-43 over No. 28 Benson) on the same night. The next day rankings had Willcox and Tombstone the same, Pima No. 8, and Benson No. 29. A non-region 56-59 loss to Saint David was also posted by Benson on Jan. 13.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Tristen Sanchez goes up for a high percentage shot attempt. The Morenci sophomore made two free throws with 14 seconds elapsed in the second quarter, giving the Wildcats their initial lead of the game at 20-19. He totaled a team-high 17 points.

The region member standings as of noon Thursday were No. 5 Willcox (11-4 overall, 7-0 seeding, 1-0 region) first, No. 7 Pima (11-5, 6-2, 1-0) second, No. 11 Bisbee (4-1, 4-1, 1-0) third, No. 18 Morenci (7-9, 3-4, 0-1) fourth, No. 27 Benson (5-8, 2-5, 0-1) fifth, and No. 40 Tombstone (3-9, 2-7, 0-1) sixth.

Morenci is averaging a 51-54 (810-863) score per game or a 3-point deficit compared to a 58-39 (931-621) average score per game or a 19-point margin for Pima, both after 16 games.

The Wildcats have wins of 48-39 over Eagar Round Valley (Dec. 1), 55-54 over Saint David (Dec. 6), 63-32 over New Mexico Bayard Cobre (Dec. 14), 54-43 over Safford (Dec. 20), 78-68 over Sahuarita Walden Grove (Dec. 29), 65-37 over Ganado (Dec. 29), and 61-31 over Ganado (Dec. 30).

Morenci’s losses were 79-86 in overtime to Phoenix Madison Highland (Dec. 9), 28-64 to Pima (Dec. 21), 47-53 to Saint David (Dec. 22), 38-62 to Gilbert North American Leadership (Dec. 28), 43-68 to Yuma Gila Ridge (Dec. 29), 33-61 to Show Low (Dec. 30), 20-53 to New Mexico Silver (Jan. 4), 41-50 to New Mexico Silver (Jan. 6), and 57-62 to Bisbee (Jan. 11).

The Roughriders have wins of 83-20 over Fort Thomas (Nov. 30), 69-37 over San Carlos (Dec. 2), 65-44 over Queen Creek San Tan Charter (Dec. 7), 59-34 over Cottonwood Mingus Union (Dec. 10), 53-37 over Arizona Lutheran (Dec. 10), 55-52 over Snowflake (Dec. 11), 63-31 over Saint David (Dec. 14), 81-28 over Safford (Dec. 16), 72-26 over Willcox (Dec. 20), 64-28 over Morenci (Dec. 21), and 72-43 over Benson (Jan. 11).

Pima’s losses have been 37-47 to Surprise Paradise Honors (Dec. 9), 34-50 to Flagstaff Coconino (Dec. 11), 38-45 to Thatcher (Dec. 22), 42-50 to Thatcher (Jan. 4), and 44-49 to Glendale Trivium Prep (Jan. 6).

Bisbee – 62, Morenci – 57

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci junior Elijah Leyba takes the open path to the basket against Bisbee senior Abdiel Armenta.

A Jose Salazar 3-pointer scored during the closing 53 seconds broke a 56-56 deadlock and the visiting Pumas added three more points, on 3-4 Sebastian Lopez free throws while Morenci mustered a lone Tristen Sanchez free throw in the same span, accounting for the games’ final score.

Bisbee led 19-18 following the opening quarter while Morenci led 37-29 at halftime and 48-41 heading into the fourth quarter. The Pumas had a 21-9 fourth quarter outing.

Morenci’s initial lead of the game was on a pair of Sanchez free throws 14 seconds with 14 seconds elapsed in the second quarter. The Wildcats went on a 13-0 run to lead by 12, 31-19, with another 2:42 elapsed, before the Pumas added two points.

A 9-5 run during the first 4:50 of the second half gave Morenci a 13-point, 46-33 advantage before the Pumas pared their deficit down to single digits in the closing 22 seconds of the third quarter.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Donovan Vozza defends attempts to prevent David Zamudio’s drive to the basket. The Bisbee junior netted 14 points.

Bisbee retook the lead, 49-48 on an 8-0 run during the first 2:31 of the fourth quarter, a 52-52 tie resulted in the next minute, and the game’s final tie, 56-56, was with 1:46 remaining.

Morenci totaled 22 field goals (six 3-pointers) plus 7-10 free throws compared to 23 field goals (ten 3-pointers) plus 6-13 free throws by Bisbee.

Sanchez contributed 17 points on seven field goals plus 3-4 free throws and Noah Chavez 12 on four 3-pointers. Elijah Leyba added 8 points, Christian Mutengela Mpoyo and Saenz 6 apiece, and both Joseph Seballos and Donovan Vozza had 4 each.

Bisbee got 17 points from sophomore Jose Mendez on seven field goals (three 3-pointers), 16 from freshman Sebastian Lopez on four field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 6-10 free throws, and 14 from junior David Zamudio on six field goals (two 3-pointers). Junior Ramon Loya added 5 points, senior Abdiel Armenta 4, and both senior Fernando Gallegos and Pico Loya Jr. had 3 apiece.

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