CAMP VERDE — Through the first half of the season, there’s been one noticeable characteristic of the Williams High School girls basketball team.
The Lady Vikings use aggressiveness and quickness to create scoring opportunities. But the team will struggle with easy shots during certain stretches. Problems finishing the play have been a key factor in the team’s three losses this season.
Williams experienced those problems in the first quarter of all three of its games Friday and Saturday in the Yvonne Johnson Memorial Tournament at Camp Verde. The Lady Vikings got into a 17-8 hole against Cottonwood Mingus in the team’s tourney opener on Friday and ended up losing 48-41.
Williams trailed Fredonia, 19-5, in the first quarter before rallying for a 38-30 victory. In its final game Saturday, Williams struggled early before taking control in a 46-40 victory over Sedona Red Rock.
Williams and Sedona ended up being on a collision course in the tournament one week after the two teams had played a regular-season game at Red Rock High School. In that one, Williams took a 50-42 victory behind the strength of an 18-1 run in the second quarter.
This time around, Williams again used a big run, this time in the fourth quarter. But most of the game, the Lady Vikings methodically wore down the Scorpions and kept a safe lead.
In the first quarter, neither team could do much offensively. In fact, the score remained tied, 3-3, for nearly five minutes until a Lyssa Mulvihill basket with 1:57 left in the quarter. By the end of the first, Williams had an 8-5 lead.
The Lady Vikings upped their lead to six points with 5:56 left in the second quarter on a big play by Helen Schimanowski. The team’s big girl in the middle came away with a steal, scored a basket and drew a foul. She then hit the free throw to complete a three-point play.
Mulvihill and Ashley Rocha hit baskets in the final 3:12 of the quarter and by halftime, Williams led 18-12.
The Lady Vikes defense was a key component of the victory for Williams. Sedona players had a Lady Vike in their faces all evening and a turnover would often be the result. Several girls showed exceptional hustle, even on Sedona’s fast-break attempts.
“Our defense came through again,” Rodriguez said. “We gave it 100 percent the whole game. We just need to make those easy baskets. Tonight, it was a lot of hustle, defense and boards.”
In the second half, Sedona never took the lead by did knot the score a few times. In the third quarter, the Scorpions went on a 6-0 run to tie the score at 22 and again later at 24. Williams finished the final minute of the third quarter with seven unanswered points as if to say, "I don't think so."
After a basket by Hillary Wamble, Mulvihill nailed a three-pointer with eight seconds left. Williams then came up with a quick steal and Rocha scored at the buzzer to give the team a 31-24 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Sedona scored back-to-back baskets in the first 26 seconds to cut the deficit back down to three. Williams responded with a 10-0 run to seemingly put the opponent away. Sedona exhibited signs of frustration in that stretch with the Williams press.
The rest of the game was a battle of three throws. Sedona actually had chances in the final few minutes with Williams struggling at the foul line.
Mulvihill and Rocha were the top scorers with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Schimanowski's presence was a key and she grabbed several rebounds.
Mingus 48, Williams 41
Cottonwood Mingus shot out to a 17-8 lead in the first quarter and then held on for life in the final three quarters in a 48-41 victory.
Down by 13 points at the half, the Lady Vikings rallied in the third and fourth quarters to pull within four points with less than two minutes to play. But a few turnovers down the stretch hindered the team’s ability to finish the comeback. Williams had to start fouling and Mingus ended up with the seven-point win.
“The girls didn’t give up, they kept coming at them hard,” Rodriguez said. “In the second half, we adjusted to what they were doing and played better.”
Mingus had one player score the high majority of its points. Marie Fredlake scored 32, which included five three-pointers and a 7-for-7 effort at the free-throw line.