KINGMAN – February Frenzy is in full swing tonight as the Lee Williams, Kingman and Kingman Academy high school girls basketball teams compete in the state tournament. The Lady Volunteers travel to Flagstaff, while the Lady Bulldogs make the trip to Tucson Sabino and the Lady Tigers are at White River Alchesay. All games are at 6:30 p.m.
Lee Williams is the lone team of the group to have already won in its 4A State Championship play-in game and the No. 14-seed Lady Vols will look to continue their recent success against the third-seeded Lady Eagles.
“We got a lot of mojo going right now,” said Lee Williams head coach Jerry Arave. “We’ve won three out of our last four games. Two of those were in overtime and all three of them required a buzzer-beater. Two of them required a buzzer-beater show to send it to overtime against Prescott and Mingus and then we beat them in overtime.”
The Lady Vols’ most recent win is the other contest that required a buzzer-beater, courtesy of Hallie Powell. The junior took an inbound pass with 3.9 seconds remaining, drove the length of the court and made a layup that sealed a 44-42 upset of No. 13 Cactus Shadows.
It won’t get any easier for Lee Williams (10-8, 6-6 4A Grand Canyon Region) as it faces Flagstaff (18-1, 12-0) for the third time this season. The Lady Eagles won the first contest on Dec. 5 by a 71-21 margin and then picked up a 62-23 victory on Jan. 12.
While that is obviously on Arave’s mind, he is focused on the bigger picture.
“At this point, you’re one of the top 16 teams in the state – you play whoever is in front of you,” Arave said. “In my opinion, they should try to seed the tournament where you’re not playing teams in your conference (region). But I understand that they have a seeding process, so at this point in time, I don’t care who we play.”
There is a silver lining in playing Flagstaff again, as the Lady Vols can easily create a game plan. However, those earlier setbacks could also be an issue.
“It could hurt you because of the psychology of the girls,” Arave said.
At the end of the night though, Arave will still be pleased with how far Lee Williams made it this year, and this squad will always be the first to get a postseason win.
Switching gears to the 2A State Tournament play-in games, where the No. 24-seed Academy (9-7, 8-2 2A West) faces off against ninth-seeded Alchesay.
The Lady Falcons (11-7, 8-4 2A North) won two of three in their region tournament and finished off the regular season by winning six of their last seven games. In the season finale, however, Alchesay dropped a 66-65 loss to Hopi.
“There are quite a few of their games on YouTube, so we’ve been watching those,” said Lady Tigers head coach Garth Steed. “They’re a lot like Parker or some of these other teams that we’ve played. I think we match up well. It’s just going to be a matter of going out and executing.”
The Academy has demonstrated that lately, winning five of its last six games. However, the Lady Tigers will have to continue that success without Kassidy Campbell who injured her knee in the 40-34 setback to region champion Parker on Feb. 1.
While that is obviously a tough loss for the Academy, Steed has faith it can continue to play well.
“We’ve come together and we’re playing better team ball,” he said “It’s what you work for all year. In that aspect, it’s exciting that we’re finally getting it and it’s a good time of the year to be peaking. Hopefully we can carry that on and keep rolling on through.”
No. 23-seed Kingman also hopes it can keep it going in the 3A State Championship.
The Lady Bulldogs (11-7, 6-4 3A West) ended the season by winning four of its last seven games and will face 10th-seeded Sabino. The Lady Sabercats (13-5, 9-3 3A South) played in a region where all four teams finished with the identical record, but the tie-breakers weren’t in their favor as they finished in fourth place.
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