No quick exit this time
KHS girls rip Rincon, advance to quarterfinals
KINGMAN - A year ago at this time, the Bulldogs quietly exited the Arizona Interscholastic Association Class 5A-II state tournament. The Kingman High girls basketball team took a big leap forward on Wednesday in this season's first round when the Bulldogs advanced to the quarterfinals with a 56-45 win over Tucson Rincon at KHS.
KHS (14-5) used a 14-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters to take a 26-12 lead over Rincon (10-9). The Bulldogs were able to keep the lead around 15 until late in the fourth, when the Rangers made a run to keep their season alive.
The Bulldogs' full-court press forced Rincon into 17 first-half turnovers, and KHS converted many of them into layups. Tesla Morgan, who finished with a game-high 21 points, was the recipient of those turnovers and scored 15 in the first half.
"We were able to contain them more than they could contain us," KHS coach Danny Gonzalez said. "We had more opportunities, but we rushed it."
Big lead shrinks
The Bulldogs held a 33-20 lead at half, and were up by 15, 43-28, to start the fourth. Foul trouble came into play for the Bulldogs when Lindsey Reed picked up her fourth on an offensive charge at 6:27 remaining. KHS struggled without Reed on the floor and went scoreless for almost five minutes as Rincon rebounded from being down 49-30 to only 49-41 with 2:16 left.
"We were lucky to have the girls see a challenge and step up," Gonzalez said.
Reed hit a free throw at 2:08 to stop the Bulldogs' bleeding, and after Cassidy Elliott hit two more just 13 seconds later, Rincon was left trying the foul strategy down the stretch, but to no avail.
"We won the game at the free-throw line," Gonzalez said. "We worked hard on them all week."
KHS sank 21 of 31 from the charity stripe to keep its distance from Rincon.
Reed scored 16, including an underhanded scoop from behind the backboard, and was impressive as the floor general for KHS.
"She played a lot of basketball. She needs to be rewarded for it," Gonzalez said.
Sarah Murphy and Elliott both contributed eight points, and Dominique Hale added three and had five steals from her post position.
KHS was also dominant on the boards, limiting Rincon to only one shot for most of the game. The Bulldogs grabbed 38 rebounds.
Wednesday's outcome was an upgrade from last year for the Bulldogs.
"It feels a whole lot better," Elliott said.
On the road
KHS has only one day off before heading to Surprise to take on Valley Vista (14-5) at 7 p.m. today on the Monsoon's home floor. The Bulldogs split the season series with Valley Vista as each team won on their home court.
"We need to get rested and focus on the next game," Elliott said. "We don't have any room for a break - I'm not ready to go home."