Wildkats clear home slate with Knights on Saturday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Duncan junior Jarrett French (22) and sophomore Conlon Jensen (24) defend against inside passes by Patagonia on Jan. 27. The Wildkats denied the visitors scoring during the final four minutes of the game. Duncan prevailed 48-36. The Wildkats close out their home slate with Tucson Immaculate Heart on Feb. 1.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

DUNCAN – Eighth-ranked Duncan (12-4 seeding) hosts No. 30 Tucson Immaculate Heart (3-11) for a non-region contest Saturday, Feb. 1. The Wildkats (6-2 East Region for 2nd of nine) topped the Knights (2-6 South Region for 8th of nine) 56-17 in Tucson Jan. 15.

East Region standings following Jan. 31 pairings are Fort Thomas first (8-0), Duncan second (6-2), Gilbert Arete Prep third (5-3), Cibecue fourth (4-3), Phoenix NFL Yet fifth (4-4), Superior sixth (3-5), North Phoenix Prep seventh (3-5), Winkelman Hayden eighth (1-6), and Kearney Ray ninth (1-7).

The only remaining East Region game left is Hayden at Cibecue Feb. 1.

Fort Thomas hosts the region tourney beginning Tuesday, Feb. 4 and concluding Friday, Feb. 7. The top two finishers qualify for the state meet.

Rankings for other East Region members on Jan. 31 were No. 3 Fort Thomas (15-2 seeding) of 36 teams, No. 9 NFL Yet (11-5), No. 13 Cibecue (7-9), No. 16 Arete Prep (10-8), No. 21 North Phoenix Prep (8-9), No. 22 Superior (6-11), No. 26 Hayden (4-13), and No. 28 Ray (2-16).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Chris Smith draws a second-half foul from Cody Hickingbottom as he brings the ball up-court. The Duncan senior made 2-4 free throws and had four 3-pointers to finish with 14 points. Hickingbottom had 11 points for the Bearcats.

The top 16 teams will be in the state meet, with a play-in round at the higher seed on Feb. 15. The surviving eight teams meet for the quarterfinals Feb. 21, with semifinals Feb. 22 and final Feb. 22.

The Wildkats have a 48-45 (1,095-1,046) score per game or a 3-point margin through 23 games. Duncan’s free throw shooting percentage is 55 (146-265) compared to 58 (165-285) for its combined opponents.

Junior Jarret French leads the team in free-throw shooting with 77 (20-26), followed by senior Jason McGrath at 75 percent (3-4), junior Nathan Kempton at 71 (10-15), sophomore Conlon Jensen at 64 (16-25), senior Lucas Basteen at 61 (25-41), senior Chris Smith at 58 (14-24), sophomore Austin Bigler and freshman Logan Basteen both at 50 (1-2), senior Steven Pierpont at 48 (20-42), senior Cliff Hansen at 45 (19-45), and junior Tommy Hille at 44 (17-39).

The Wildkats downed Patagonia 48-36 in Duncan Jan. 27 and Superior 55-45 on the road Jan. 28.

Over the previous two weeks, the Wildkats fell 54-66 to the Apaches in Fort Thomas Jan. 14, topped Immaculate Heart in Tucson Jan. 15, fell 44-47 to the Arete Prep Chargers in Duncan Jan. 17, and defeated the Lobos 56-29 in Hayden Jan. 21, the Blue Devils 53-37 in Elfrida Jan. 23, and edged Kearny Ray 53-52 in Duncan Jan. 25.

Wildkats – 48, Lobos – 36

He did not plan it that way, but senior Steven Pierpont scored his only field goal of the game midway through the fourth period. It broke a 36-36 tie, gave Duncan the lead for good, and sparked a 12-0 run to close out the game. Hille had four field goals and Kempton one in that run.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Junior Tommy Hille scored four field goals in the paint during a 12-0 run against Patagonia.

Patagonia led 12-7 following the opening period and 21-16 at halftime. Duncan had a 14-7 outing in the third period to lead 30-28 heading into the final eight minutes.

The Wildkats trailed by eight, 16-24, before a 10-2 run tied the score at 26-26 with 2:52 left in the third period. A Jensen field goal gave Duncan its initial lead of the second half, with 1:47 left in the third period.

Patagonia came back to tie at 36-36 with 4:30 left to play, but could not take the lead after Jensen’s tie-breaking field goal.

Duncan totaled 21 field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 3-6 free throws compared to 14 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 6-13 free throws by Patagonia.

Hille netted 13 points on six field goals plus 1-4 free throws. French and Lucas Basteen added eight points apiece, Jensen six, Hansen and Kempton four each, Smith three, and Pierpont two.

For Patagonia, junior Lalo Aguilar had a game-high 16 points on seven field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 1-4 free throws.  Sophomore Santiny Aguilar added seven points, junior Julian Vasquez five, senior Isaiah Ruiz four, and both senior Russell Sherman and junior Whitcoe two each.

Wildkats – 53, Bearcats – 52

The opening period was thrice tied, 6-6 with 4:57 left, 8-8 with 3:56 left, and 12-12 with 1:18 left, before ending with a 15-15 deadlock.

A Hille field goal with 2:08 elapsed in the second period gave the Wildkats a 17-15 advantage and a lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the game.

Second-period back-to-back Basteen field goals, a right-handed lay-up with 1:38 left and a left-handed hook-shot with 14 seconds left, gave Duncan a 23-20 halftime advantage.

The visiting Bearcats tied the score a final time with 2:08 elapsed in the fourth period but did not take the lead.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior Lucas Basteen scored back-to-back second-period field goals, a right-handed lay-up and a left-handed hook shot to give Duncan a 23-20 halftime advantage over Ray. The Bearcats left Greenlee County with a 53-52 loss Jan. 25.

Smith’s initial 3-pointer gave Duncan an 8-point advantage, 35-27 with 3:07 left in the third period; his second broke the game’s final tie with 5:37 left in the fourth period; and his fourth gave Duncan its second 8-point advantage, 49-41 with 2:56 left to play.

However, the Bearcats went on an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to two, 51-49 with 28 seconds remaining.

Jensen’s 2-2 free throws raised the margin to four, 53-49 with 11 seconds left, the Bearcats connected on a long-distance shot seven seconds later, but four seconds did not warrant a 5-seconds inbound violation and the final buzzer sounded.

The win evened Duncan’s record to 3-3 in its own facility this season. Losses, to Fort Thomas (Dec. 12), Valley Union (Jan. 10) and Arete Prep (Jan. 14) overshadowed wins over Hayden (Dec. 10) and Cibecue (Dec. 21).

This time in the post-game dressing room meeting, the cheering was louder coming from the home side than across the hall in the visitors’ side.

For the night, the Wildcats tallied 18 field goals (eight 3-pointers) plus 9-14 free throws compared to 16 field goals (six 3-pointers) plus 14-20 free throws by the Bearcats.

Smith netted 14 points on four 3-pointers plus 2-4 free throws. French added nine points, Basteen and Hille eight apiece, Pierpont six, Jensen five, and Hansen three.

For Ray, Alex Bravo had a game-high 17 points on five field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 4-7 free throws, Alex Carrillo 13 on four field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 4-4 free throws, and Cody Hickingbottom 11 on three field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 3-4 free throws.  Johnny Pace added five points, Julian Becerra four, and Tracon Naranjo two.

Wildkats – 53, Blue Devils – 37

The Wildkats jumped out to a 19-7 opening period advantage in the non-region contest, led 35-15 at halftime and 53-19 heading into the final eight minutes.

Duncan totaled 20 field goals (six 3-pointers) plus 7-16 free throws compared to 10 field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 14-18 free throws by Valley Union.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Duncan sophomore Conlon Jensen sank a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left against Ray Jan. 25. The Bearcats drilled a 3-pointer, but ran out of time and left Duncan with a 1-point loss.

French tossed in a season-high 21 points on seven field goals (five 3-pointers) plus 2-2 free throws Pierpont 12 on five field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 1-4 free throws. Basteen and Hansen added six points apiece, Hille four, Smith two, and both Kempton and Bigler one each.

For the Blue Devils, Zeke Stewart had 10 points on two field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 5-6 free throws. Bradley Noble added nine points, Pablo Arreola eight, Ethan Stewart five, Misqel Noperi three, and Isaiah Zamoa two.

Wildkats – 56, Lobos – 29

Trailing 9-10 following the opening period of the region game, the Wildkats turned in a 14-6 second period outing to lead 23-16 at halftime. A 14-9 third period effort resulted in a 37-24 advantage heading into the fourth period.

The Wildkats tallied 20 field goals (six 3-pointers) plus 10-14 free throws versus 11 field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 6-10 free throws by the Lobos.

French netted 14 points on five field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 2-2 free throws and Jensen 13 on five field goals (three 3-pointers). Basteen and Kempton added nine points apiece, Pierpont six, Smith five, and Hansen two.

For the Lobos, Brandon Garner had 10 points on four field goals plus 2-4 free throws. Isaac Castillo added six points, J.J. Arbizo four, Faisian Elvira three, and Adriano Cruz, Manny Gaillen, and Ralphie Valencia two each.