By Brad Fuqua
WGCN sports editor
Over the past few years, the Williams High School girls basketball team has traditionally been a slow starter.
The Lady Vikings have played .500 ball in their own tournament and during December games before peaking late in the season and qualifying for the state playoffs.
Although there's nothing wrong with peaking late when it counts, Williams coach Lorenzo Rodriguez probably wouldn't mind seeing a few more wins early.
"Last year, Seligman beat us in the tournament and then we beat them twice during the regular season," Rodriguez said. "We try to put it together early, but we tend to get better as we go along, peaking at the end of the season."
Seligman ended up winning last year's tournament championship while Williams had to settle for fourth.
"We have a pretty good chance if the girls play up to their ability," Rodriguez said. "It all depends on how the girls play."
One area of needed improvement revolves around simple layups. While Williams usually has quick girls on the floor to steal the ball, players have had bad luck finishing the play by missing layups.
"If we can only make our layups," Rodriguez said. "We make the layups in practice but in the games, they're going harder and quicker. We need those game-situation type practices."
Williams lost its season opener to Camp Verde, 58-46, with Lyssa Mulvihill hitting for 12 and Dee Dee Fogg scoring 10. The girls played at Grand Canyon Tuesday in a game after deadline.
Ashley Rocha, junior, sustained a pulled muscle injury in the Camp Verde game and her status for action in the tournament is unknown. Rocha has been a key player for the Lady Vikings over the past two seasons.
In the tournament, Williams opens with a 7 p.m. game in the high-school gym against Fredonia. The Lady Lynx went through pool play last year undefeated before falling to Seligman in the championship game by 10 points.
"Fredonia usually comes up with a pretty good team," Rodriguez said. "They had a big girl last year who scored a lot of points. We just didn't stop her."
Fredonia beat Williams, 44-38, in last year's tournament.
The winner of the game will play at 6 p.m. Friday against the winner of Grand Canyon vs. Ash Fork. The loser of the two games will meet at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
The other side of the bracket includes Seligman, San Pasqual, Calif., Laughlin, Nev., and Mogollon.
Each team will play single games on Thursday and Friday before the medal round games Saturday. In a change from previous Williams tournaments, teams will play one fewer game.