Wildkats show improvement despite losses

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Duncan senior Payton Damron brings the ball up court as Cibecue freshman Francesca Smith defends. Damron had 11 points and Smith six.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

DUNCAN – The Eric Bejarano-coached Duncan Wildkats cut the deficit to single digits but succumbed 45-36 to the visiting Cibecue Wildcats Dec. 21. It was the first of 11 losses under double-digits.

“We just gotta keep on working,” Bejarano said.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Duncan senior Delanie Claridge is fouled by Cibecue freshman Fantasia Sanchez. Claridge made 1-2 free throws.

Duncan fell by double digits, 59-35, during a Dec. 8 pairing with the Cibecue Wildcats and had averaged a 22-73 (237-803) score per game or a deficit of 51 points through the previous 11 games.

A lone win, 43-26 over the Academy of Tucson, is all that is on the overall record thus far. The losses have been 45-17 to Valley Union in Elfrida Nov. 26, 33-23 to Bowie / San Simon in Duncan Nov. 27, 41-8 to Tucson Immaculate Heart in Duncan Nov. 29, and 41-28 to Winkelman Hayden in Duncan Dec. 4, 59-35 in Cibecue Dec, 8, 52-19 in Fort Thomas Dec. 11, 56-11 to New Mexico Animas Dec. 18 in seeding games.

Additionally, the Wildkats went 0-3 in the 43rd Eastern Arizona College Girls Holiday Tournament, falling 48-12 to Safford Dec. 13, 49-14 to Pima Dec. 14, and 50-35 to Morenci Dec. 15, as the eighth seed.

The Wildkats have a combined free throw shooting percentage of 42 (77-184) compared to 48 (96-198) for their opponents through 12 games.

Individually, junior Kaktys Garcia has a percentage of 100 (2-2), senior Payton Damron 60 (28-47), senior Katelyn Stergion 57 (4-7), senior Melissa Claridge 50 (24-48), sophomore Janye Eddy 33 (6-18), sophomore Loren Basteen 33 (2-6), senior Delanie Claridge 25 (3-12), freshman Kiley McGrath 19 (6-31), freshman Kierra Lacey 18 (2-11), junior Morgan Billingsley 0-2.

Senior Britni Avant, sophomore Angel Benavidez, and freshman Oniah Jensen have not attempted any free throws.

Duncan (1-11 overall, 1-8 seeding, 0-1 1A East Region) hosts Fort Thomas for a region contest Jan. 8.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Sophomore Melissa Claridge goes up for a high percentage shot attempt against Cibecue Dec. 21. She netted a team-high 13 points.

Cibecue – 45, Duncan – 36

The Wildkats led 12-11 after the opening period, went up by three 29 seconds into the second period, but lost the lead for good on a pair of free throws with 6:14 left in the first half. Duncan got within five twice, 15-20 with 4:18 left in the second period and 36-41 with 2:36 left to play.

Cibecue led 29-21 at halftime and 36-26 heading into the final eight minutes.

The Wildkats totaled 13 field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 9-26 free throws versus 13 field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 16-31 free throws by the Wildcats.

Melissa Claridge had 13 points on four field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 4-8 free throws and Damron 11 on five field goals plus 1-2 free throws. Eddy  and Garcia added four points apiece, Stergion two, and both Delanie Claridge and McGrath one each.

Junior Heather Machuse in double figures for the Wildcats. She had 17 points on four field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 7-9 free throws. Senior Kyleigh Dale and freshman Fantasia Sanchez both added eight points, freshman Francesca Smith six, senior Leyla Thompson four, and junior Chana Williams two.

Animas – 56, Duncan – 11

The visiting Panthers had double-digit scoring in three of four periods while the Wildkats were limited to single digits in three periods and zero in the other. Animas led 19-2 following the opening period, 37-5 at halftime and 46-11 heading into the final period.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Sophomore Janaye Eddy brings the ball across the half-court line against Cibecue on Dec. 21.

Duncan totaled four field goals plus 3-10 free throws versus 22 field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 11-17 free throws by Animas.

Three Wildkats scored with Melissa Claridge getting five points, Damron four, and Stergion two.

Freshman Naomi Kimble netted 13 points and senior Tierney Washburn 12 for the Panthers, on six field goals plus 1-2 free throws and four field goals plus 4-4 free throws, respectively. Seniors Brenda Elias and Hailey Marble both added nine points, sophomore Codi Wright six, junior Jennifer Acosta, eighth graders Addy Offut, and Jolie Ybarra two apiece, and senior Joshlyn Eddy one.

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