KINGMAN - Senior nights are typically emotional. The Kingman High Lady Bulldogs was even more so due to the nature of senior Desirae Gonzalez's knee injury.
Kingman (16-1, 5-1) held off Lee Williams (8-9, 2-4) in the Division III, Section VI regular season finale, 45-36.
"I'm over the moon with emotions," said KHS senior guard Katie Ruggles. "I'm just so excited we get to go to state together. This is our second time going, we went our sophomore year, and this is a great ending to our senior year."
Gonzalez, who had been the state's leading scorer for most of the season but now is second with 28.5 points per game, limped gingerly up and down the court during the limited minutes she was on the floor. She was hurt while driving toward the basket at Buckeye Wednesday and it was clear on Friday there is real damage to her right knee.
Gonzalez started, but less than three minutes into the game, she fought off tears and asked to be taken out of the game. She returned in spurts for Kingman and finished with seven points.
"I think she's done," said KHS girls basketball coach, and Desirae's father, Danny Gonzalez after the game. "She can't move. At least we can say we made it."
Kingman is the No. 2 seed in the Section VI tournament and will play No. 3 seed Estrella Foothills (13-5, 4-2) at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday at Buckeye Youngker. That winner gets the No. 1 Buckeye (14-4, 6-0) - No. 4 Lee Williams winner at 5:15 p.m. Saturday, also at Youngker.
The Lady Bulldogs are currently ranked No. 8 in D-III and have earned a spot in the state tournament that begins Feb. 17.
Despite Gonzalez's limitations, Kingman jumped out to 17-6 lead after one quarter on Lee Williams. After a sloppy second quarter, the Lady Bulldogs held at 12-point lead the half, 24-12.
Seniors Makenna Taylor and Kim Carroll took over scoring roles for the Lady Bulldogs and tied for game-high honors with 14 points each. Ruggles and Courtney Mossor each contributed four, and Christina Thames had two.
Kingman held the Lady Vols to 19 points through three quarters, but Lee Williams nearly matched that with 17 in the fourth to put a little pressure on the Lady Bulldogs.
"Makenna and Kimmy have to step up and it clearly showed," Gonzalez said. "We lost focus on defense in the end."
No one seems sure what role Desirae Gonzalez will play in the postseason for the Lady Bulldogs. The only certainty is that, no matter the role, it won't be at her 100 percent best.
"We just have to work harder as a team and compensate for her points," Ruggles said. "We just have to work together."