KINGMAN - Two years later, the sour taste lingers in the mouths of the Kingman High Lady Bulldogs. And they're looking forward to cleansing their palates when they play at Buckeye (12-4, 4-0) to determine the regular season championship and No. 1 seed for Division III, Section VI at 5:30 p.m. today.
Kingman (15-0, 4-0) made it to the quarterfinals of the 2014 Division II State Tournament where they were eliminated by Buckeye, 39-29. Senior Desirae Gonzalez was a starting sophomore on that squad and her memory is long.
"It's revenge. For me, that's what it is. That's what is driving me," Gonzalez said. "We're going to go in and play our ball. I'm excited."
The Lady Bulldogs tuned up for Buckeye by thrashing Lake Havasu (7-9) in a non-section game Monday at KHS, 64-29. Kingman blitzed the Knights with a 21-8 first quarter and led at the half, 44-15.
Gonzalez had 18 of the Lady Bulldogs' 21 first-quarter points and 27 of the 44 in the first half. She settled for a game-high 35 and shot 70 percent from the floor on 14-for-20 shooting. She had good reason for coming out on fire.
"This was the last time I'm ever going to play Havasu. I've been playing Havasu since the sixth grade," said the state's leading scorer with 30.6 points per game. "I wanted to make a statement now and let them remember me forever. I couldn't have done it without the steals, passes and assists."
Senior Kim Carroll's 15-foot jumper looked sharp for Kingman. She scored 11 points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked two shots. Makenna Taylor finished with 10 points, and Courtney Mossor, Keara Tauta, Cheri Roundy and Christina Thames each had two.
The Lady Bulldogs looked seasoned in the first half, but the 29-point halftime lead may have made them complacent in the second half. Kingman outscored Havasu in the second half, 20-14.
"I do wish we had played a little bit harder in the second half," said KHS girls basketball coach Danny Gonzalez. "We've got to learn to play a full game. They're still working hard and there is nothing we're taking away from them. We got the win and the girls are proud."
If Kingman is going to make the trip back home today with a section title in its pocket, then that'll mean the Lady Bulldogs took care of the three things they need to do to be successful.
"We've got to take care of the ball, rebound and get to the free-throw line more," Danny Gonzalez said. "They'll press the whole game and they're going to be scrappy. We've experienced pressure."
Kingman finalizes the regular season when it hosts Lee Williams at 5:30 p.m. Friday.