KINGMAN - The White Cliffs Middle School girls basketball teams capped off a stellar 2010-11 season with two Mohave County championships. The Wolves' seventh- and eighth-grade teams both finished with titles.
The seventh-grade squad won its tournament championship Feb. 5 at WCMS. They went 3-0 in the playoffs and finished the year undefeated, 14-0.
The Wolves opened the tournament by destroying Bullhead City Fox Creek, 40-2. In the semifinals, WCMS needed a strong second half to put away Needles, Calif. The scored was tied at the half, 10-10, but the Wolves came out strong in the third quarter en route to a 32-16 win.
WCMS took on Lake Havasu City Thunderbolt for the championship. When the teams met during the regular season, both came in undefeated. The Wolves won that first game by 14 points.
Thunderbolt used a triangle-and-two defense to contain the Wolves' leading scorer, Desirae Gonzalez.
"Our girls were a little confused, and so was I," WCMS coach Melissa Gonzalez said. "We hadn't seen anything like that before."
That confusion led to an early Thunderbolt lead, 6-0. The Wolves were rattled because they had never trailed in a game up to that point. WCMS made adjustments, and their determination pulled out a hard-fought 23-20 victory.
Other members of the team included Mariah Sammeli, Jennifer Ruggles, Taylor Olivas, Autumn Hood, Catherine Angle, Brooke Gastineau, Amanda Burns, Mikayla Yellowman and Rebecca Fondren.
The eighth-grade team entered their tournament Feb. 12 at Fox Creek seeded seventh out of eight teams and 3-8 record. Needing some help, coach Gonzalez pulled up four of the seventh-grade players. Desirae Gonzalez, Olivas, Angle and Fondren were added to the eighth-grade roster.
The Wolves opened the tournament against Kingman Academy of Learning.
"In our previous meeting, KAOL earned the victory by a large margin," coach Gonzalez said. "We knew we would have to play outstanding basketball to beat them."
WCMS came out like a buzz saw and raced to a 20-6 lead at the half. The Coyotes attempted a second-half comeback, but it fell short. The Wolves advanced, 33-24.
Some clutch play at the end got WCMS past Needles in the second round. The Wolves led by two with a minute left when Gonzalez was fouled. She made one free throw, and then Needles scored to make it a one-point game.
Gonzalez was fouled again, made two free throws, and then time ran out on Needles. The Wolves were in the championship game with a 31-28 win.
It was WCMS versus Thunderbolt again. The Thundercats got into the finals with a last-second shot to beat Bullhead City.
WCMS used defensive pressure to jump out to a 13-1 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Wolves never let up and took the eighth-grade championship, 35-18. WCMS finished the season 6-8.
Other members of the team included Breanna Gastineau, Karly Lawrence, Ashley Fried, Breonna Ferguson, Abi Ortiz, Elizabeth Angle, Brittany Weese, Crystal Burns, Danielle Shaw, Alyssa McBride, Lizette Larios and Sacha Kessler.
"These girls came a long way from the beginning of the season," the coach said. "They worked hard and continued to learn the game. Their attitudes and efforts were definitely noticed."