Prep Basketball: Lady Vols aim for first trip to state

KINGMAN – With a solid core of five seniors and two that have played on varsity since they were freshmen, it’s the perfect season for the Lee Williams High School girls basketball team to make the postseason for the first time in program history.

“I’d like to make the state tournament,” said second-year head coach Jerry Arave. “These girls deserve it. They’ve worked hard. That’s our expectations – to be in the top 16 and make it to the state tournament.”

The Lady Vols went 9-8 overall and 5-7 in the 4A Grand Canyon Region for fourth place last season. Coconino led the way at 12-1, followed by Flagstaff (11-1) and Bradshaw Mountain (8-4). Arave knows that Flagstaff will continue to be the class of the region, but Coconino might not be as successful after it graduated Jacqulynn Nakai who averaged 20.2 points per game last season.

“Bradshaw Mountain finished third last year and they beat us twice,” Arave said. “One was close and the other one they beat us pretty good, but we had a couple girls injured. So I’m hoping to overcome them and Coconino to get at Flagstaff.”

In order to inch closer to Flagstaff, Arave knows Lee Williams needs to find more success on offense.

“If our shooting improves, we’ll be good,” he said. “If not, we’ll have to win with defense. We plan to press a lot because we have to get as many easy baskets as we can.”

The Lady Vols return two impact players in seniors Sadie Snay and Madison Arave. Snay will be a threat from outside, while Arave will lead a talented defense. Lee Williams also added a transfer to replace center Chania Scott.

“Junior Ellie Thomas moved here from Bagdad,” coach Arave said. “She’s raw and learning the game, but she is 5-11 and will add some height for us.”

Only time will tell how the Lady Vols will mesh this season, but one thing is for sure – they should be more familiar with coach Arave entering Year 2.

“They know me and they know my expectations,” he said. “… They’re used to me now and I’m used to them. We’ll be OK.”

Lee Williams opens its season on the road at 7 p.m. Monday against Parker before returning home for a 7 p.m. contest Tuesday against Kingman Academy. However, coach Arave has his eye on hoisting a trophy in one of the team’s December tournaments.

“We’re just looking to compete and be in every game,” he said. “We’re going to the River Valley and Prescott tournaments, and I would like to win one of those.”