KINGMAN – Sometimes a little trust can go a long way in leading a squad to great success.
The Kingman High School girls basketball team is proving that to be true as it won its 13th straight game Saturday in a 51-36 victory over Northwest Christian.
“We’ve all been playing sports since middle school – that chemistry is just there,” said senior Payton Chamberlain. “It’s nice to finish my high school career with girls that I grew up playing basketball with.”
And that familiarity was on full display as the Lady Bulldogs put on a clinic with great teamwork against 24th-ranked Northwest Christian (7-7, 4-3 3A West Region).
The Lady Crusaders are the defending region champions, but this is a new season and Kingman showed why it has the talent to win its first 3A West Region title.
“All these girls are playing in way that you almost can’t describe because they offensively trust each other now,” said Lady Bulldogs head coach Kevin Hubbard. “And you can see it – there was a layup right under the basket and they made the one extra pass, the one extra move to the wide-open layup. And those extra passes mean the world on a team like this. Offensively, we were fueled by a defensive performance.”
It also helped Kingman had its defensive leader back on the court. Chamberlain injured her ankle in a Jan. 8 win over Chino Valley and just returned to the floor Thursday against the same Lady Cougars squad.
“It was pretty tough,” Chamberlain said of missing three games. “But I know my girls got it – they work hard at practice. They know how to work with everybody.”
That point was proven when Chamberlain was called for her fourth foul of the game early in the third quarter. She had to take a seat, but the Lady Bulldogs picked up the slack with three straight baskets and used the momentum to take a 35-22 advantage entering the final quarter.
“I told them, ‘If you play the third quarter the way you been playing fourth quarters – we’ll be just fine,’” Hubbard said. “They came out with a 6-0 run and a 14-6 advantage in the (third) quarter.”
That lead did shrink to eight points, 44-36, with 2:14 remaining, but Kingman ended the game on a 7-0 run to tally their seventh straight region victory.
“That’s what the good teams have to do – find a way to win, no matter what the night is,” Hubbard said. “No matter if you’re shooting well or not, playing defense well or not, good teams find a way to win. And that’s kind of where we’re at. Every night somebody else is stepping up, somebody else is doing something new. That’s the great thing about them – they’re going to step up.”
Kearra Tauta led the way for the Lady Bulldogs with a game-high 21 points, while Sukwana Quasula scored 13 and Chamberlain chipped in nine points on three treys.
“This team has been poised to do this from the start,” Hubbard said. “I’ve done a few things here and there to help them learn the game of basketball and to trust each other. But I don’t play the games. They go win games.
“So if anyone is proud of anything on this special team that we have – be proud of them,” Hubbard continued. “I just get to say who gets to play. I’m proud of them and I’m proud that I got to be a coach this year. It was good timing for everyone.”
Ninth-ranked Kingman (13-1, 7-0 3A West Region) is idle until 5:30 p.m. Friday when it makes the trip to No. 35 ranked River Valley (4-10, 2-5).
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