A shortened bench, a terrible shooting night, and frenzied-style of play by Tucson equaled a short-lived playoff stay for the Red Mountain girls basketball team.
The eighth-seeded Mountain Lions were off from the start and never recovered in a 43-30 defeat Wednesday against the ninth-seeded Badgers in the 6A Conference playoffs.
“We had a lot of really good shots early, normal shots we knock down and they weren’t falling,” Red Mountain coach Martin Appel said. “A little bit of nerves I’m sure.”
The Mountain Lions missed several easy looks in the early going, while Tucson (25-3) made the most of its possessions in building an 11-4 lead after the first quarter.
Kailey Appel hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Heavyn Jordan made a jumper had a steal and layup early in to pull within 15-14.
Tucson hit 3 points to end the second quarter and then opened the third with a 12-2 run to balloon the lead to 30-16 to essentially seal the victory for the Badgers, who came in with an impressive record, but a light schedule.
Tucson played efficient offensively, made its free throws (16 of 20), held the Lions to two points in the third quarter and most importantly took Red Mountain senior and Nevada signee Amaya West, who didn’t score until the fourth quarter, out of the game.
“(Tucson) play(s) hard and aggressive with some good seniors that battle,” coach Appel said. “Initially (West) had some looks and they were face guarding. Timing was a little bit off. She’s our senior and our stud so she was pressing.”
It was a frustrating end for team that was considered a top 10 all year with a full squad and entered the postseason with a seven-winning streak.
Most notably missing from the team were juniors Samantha Shoemake and Jacquelyn Ries.
“We only had seven kids and they battled their butts off,” said Appel, adding that the limited roster happened just this last week. “I knew it was going to be a concern because Tucson has a deep team.
“We had all kinds of things going on (to limit the roster). We came in underhanded. We couldn’t do anything about it. We had to move on and they did a great job battling. We just couldn’t get the ball in the basket.”
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to email@example.com.
Tucson 11 7 10 15-43
Red Mtn. 4 10 2 14-30
Tucson (24-3) – Peheulbes 1-5-7, Bohn 1-3-5, Chavez 6-0-15, Luna 0-3-3, Stembridge 1-2-4, Obeoin 3-0-9. TOTALS: 12-16-43.
Red Mountain (20-7) – Appel 3-0-8, Jordan 4-0-8, Johnson 3-0-6, West 3-2-8. TOTALS: 13-2-30.