KINGMAN – The regular season is not over yet, but the Kingman High School girls basketball team can check one goal off its list – a region championship.
The Lady Bulldogs never wavered it their quest to the top and it paid off Tuesday as they defeated Wickenburg 57-39 to clinch their first 3A West Region title.
“They’ve worked their butts off all season and they’ve overcome a lot of adversity,” said Kingman High head coach Kevin Hubbard. “Payton (Chamberlain) had an injury for a while. Kearra (Tauta) was hurt a while. We’ve had ineligibility, transfers and things that every team goes through. But I felt like it was really heavy on us for a while. And to come out like this and play our best basketball in the last couple of games, it feels really good.”
That feeling was on full display after the final buzzer as the Lady Bulldogs gathered together and celebrated their region crown. The win was even more significant because it was Kingman’s 15th straight and ninth consecutive in region play.
The Lady Bulldogs made sure the victory was without question as they led from wire-to-wire, highlighted by a 13-0 run to start the game. Kingman didn’t allow the 35th-ranked Lady Wranglers (4-13, 3-7 3A West Region) to tally their first points of the game until 2:41 remaining in the first quarter.
“The great thing about those beginning game runs is everyone is touching the ball, everyone is scoring – it looks really good,” Hubbard said. “Then we hit a lull, which we have to figure out how to get over. But I couldn’t be prouder of the way they played tonight.”
The Lady Bulldogs did have a little bit of a letdown with a nine-point second quarter, but still entered halftime with a 26-10 advantage.
Kingman’s lead was quickly cushioned in the third quarter thanks in part to the play of Sukwana Quasula and Kearra Tauta. The seniors combined for 11 of the 17 third-quarter points to give the Lady Bulldogs a 43-23 advantage entering the fourth.
“When both of them are going, it’s going to be scary for teams,” Hubbard said of Quasula and Tauta. “And one of these nights we’re going to get somebody else too as a third scorer. It’s going to be a night where we score a bunch of points. But I’m more proud of a defensive effort where at the end of the night they hit a bunch of 3s in the fourth quarter that kind of pulled it closer than it was.”
Wickenburg did in fact sink a number of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter – four to be exact – but the final result was already in hand.
Quasula finished with a game-high 19 points, while Tauta scored 18 and Star Talayumpteua chipped in eight points off the bench.
The No. 11 ranked Lady Bulldogs (15-1, 9-0 3A West Region) have one final regular season test at 5:30 p.m. Thursday when they host 23rd-ranked Kingman Academy (11-4, 7-2).
“Those seniors deserve a win (Thursday) night – they want to finish right,” Hubbard said of Chamberlain, Quasula and Tauta. “They deserve every award and anything they earn because they’ve led this team from day one. I couldn’t say enough about the three of them as teammates and as players out there on the court.”
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