Hoop season ends for middle school girls, starting up for boys

The Lady Phantoms middle school basketball season ended with both the A and B teams placing in tournament play on Dec. 1 and 2.

The B Team finished second in their league. They were seeded first in their division, facing off against Seligman after the Spartans beat Ash Fork in the first round. They won handily with a final score of 23-7.

Scorers were Katreena Haswood with 6, Cori Yazzie with 5, Rosie Caballero with 4, Morgan Timeche with 2, Amber Nez with 2 and Amber Begishie with 2.

They narrowly lost to Williams, 10-12, to take second place. Scorers were Yazzie with 6 and Nez with 4.

"The B Team had a really good season," said Head Coach Andrew Aldaz. "They were all sixth graders, but even when they played teams of seventh graders, I felt they held their own. They were able to pick up and run different defenses and were even able to run some offense."

The fourth-seeded A team finished their tournament in third place after a decisive win over Ash Fork. This followed a one-point win over the Spartans in their first game and a four-point loss to Seligman in the second.

The Phantoms advanced in their bracket following a 21-20 win over Ash Fork. While the defense narrowly held the win, Aldaz said that all of the offense happened in the first two quarters of the game.

"They had a pretty good lead and it was 21-11 at the half," he said. "We had a lot of traveling violations and turnovers in the second. We missed a lot of free throws."

Scorers were Chelsea Curtis, 10; Josie Araiza, 5; Madison Berry, 4 and Brandie Gomez, 2.

The final score in the second game, against the Antelopes, was 20-16. This loss came down to missed free-throw opportunities, Aldaz said.

"They missed 10 in the fourth quarter," he said.

Scoring were Berry with 10, Curtis with 3, Savannah McBroom Sweeney with 3 and Gomez with 1.

The Lady Phantoms faced Ash Fork again, delivering a more decisive 32-17 win this time to clinch third place.

"In this game, they dominated," Aldaz said. "This wasn't like the first game."

Halfway through the third quarter, he said he started to put the B Team on the court, where they held their own against the A-level 'Lopes.

Berry was the high scorer with 14. Haswood scored 6 and Gomez scored 4. Adding two apiece were Kelsey Wren, Curtis, Nez and Begishie.

"Overall, they had a great season," he said. "There was a lot of improvement."

He credited Assistant Coach Ginny Donley for her support.

The eight members of the A Team, all eighth-graders, are interested in playing as freshmen next year, while the B Team will form the core of next year's A Team. The benefit will extend beyond that, Aldaz said.

"This is going to help the high school team," he said. "Without feeder programs, they were getting to the high school level with little or no experience in organized basketball."

Now it's the middle school boys' turn. They started practice last week with 19 players, under Aldaz and Assistant Coach Dale Kissner. Their first games will be at home on Saturday, Jan. 13, against Ash Fork and Seligman, starting at 9 a.m.

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