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Mon, June 24

Prep Basketball: Lady Bulldogs beat Academy to finish 10-0 in 3A West Region

Sukwana Quasula tallied a game-high 22 points Thursday night as Kingman High won its 16th straight game in a 69-40 victory over Kingman Academy. (Photo by Beau Bearden/Daily Miner)

Sukwana Quasula tallied a game-high 22 points Thursday night as Kingman High won its 16th straight game in a 69-40 victory over Kingman Academy. (Photo by Beau Bearden/Daily Miner)

KINGMAN – As the wins continued piling up and the season neared its end, the possibility of a perfect record in the 3A West Region looked more and more promising.

It’s no longer a question now as the Kingman High School girls basketball team picked up a 69-40 win over Kingman Academy Thursday to finish with an unblemished 10-0 mark in region play.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the year that they’ve had,” said Lady Bulldogs head coach Kevin Hubbard. “It’s kind of one of those dreams years. We really couldn’t ask for more at this point.”

And this remarkable year started with what many teams can never recover from – a season-opening loss as Kingman fell 53-39 to Lee Williams on Nov. 20.

But sometimes it takes a step back, to take a step forward – or 16 steps forward.

“10-0 in the region, 16 straight wins – I’ll give a shout out to Lee Williams for getting us in the first one,” Hubbard said. “But I also think that game was a turning point for us. Because we looked at each other and said, ‘We’re better than this.’ We kind of revamped, changed things and moved people around. Then we started playing really well and I couldn’t be happier.”

It was a storybook ending to the regular season as the trio of Lady Bulldog seniors were honored before the game in front of large crowd. The excitement carried over to the floor as Kingman battled to a 19-19 tie after the first quarter.

But the Lady Bulldogs didn’t let the visiting Lady Tigers continue to find a groove on offense – holding them to nine points in the second quarter on the way to a 37-28 halftime advantage.

“Like I told them, ‘Sometimes you come up against a team that goes like that and you just hold on for dear life,’” said Academy head coach Garth Steed. “But they’re a good team. We gave them too many opportunities in the second quarter. You just can’t do that against a good team.”

Kingman’s senior leaders proved Steed’s words to be true as Payton Chamberlain, Sukwana Quasula and Kearra Tauta combined for 48 points. Quasula led the way with 22 points, while Tauta scored 16 and Chamberlain chipped in 10 points.

“Hats off to them, they’re a dang good team,” Steed said. “They got three seniors that are really good players. That’s tough.”

Meanwhile, junior Emily McCracken led the Lady Tigers with 13 points, followed by senior Ashlee Steed with nine points and the duo of Vanessa Blanco and Faith Edwards with six points each.

No. 23rd-ranked Academy (11-5, 7-3 3A West Region) will live to play another day and it’ll be in the 3A State Championship, scheduled to begin Tuesday night.

The AIA bracket release show starts at 5 p.m. Saturday and can be watched live online at https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/azpreps365/evtac230e94e4.

“I couldn’t be prouder to say the two Kingman schools are the ones coming out of our region to go to state,” Hubbard said. “That feels really good to kind of share that honor with them a little bit.”

The No. 10 ranked Lady Bulldogs (16-1, 10-0 3A West Region) are likely to host a first-round state championship contest, but that’s not Hubbard’s top priority right now.

“We have to focus our defense a lot more for state, wherever we end up,” he said. “We’ll find out Saturday. But state is going to be a game where defense is going to carry us – wherever it is and however it’s played.”

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