YUMA — Wednesday’s rematch of last year’s Region I championship was avenged as the Cochise Apaches beat Arizona Western 86-79 in Yuma.
This was by far the best environment that the team has played in all year.
The team came out and thrived. There was little error on the defensive end for the Cochise men. The Apaches were ready to defend without fouling. The whole goal of the game was for Cochise to make Western uncomfortable, and they succeeded.
The first half ended in favor of the Apaches by eight points.
Mahki Morris hit four of his six three-pointers in the first segment of the game, which allowed the Apaches to create separation and set up on the defensive end.
In the second half, the Matadors switched their defensive strategy and decided to get out of their zone to better find Morris and contain his hot shooting.
The Apaches buckled down and found ways to maintain their defensive prowess. This enabled the team to get out in transition, set up, and execute on the offensive end.
Freshman Chris Whitaker led the way for the Apaches with 25 points, and Morris followed up with 23.
The high-octane backcourt has been able to sustain its scoring this season, and also leads the conference in points per game with averages of 22 and 21, respectively. Jamaure Gregg was able to control the inside with his fifth double-double of the season, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 big boards. Fellow sophomore Darnell Robateau also chipped in with 10 points and seven assists.
The Apaches improved to 8-2 on the season and 3-1 in conference play, placing themselves at the top of the standings.
“Our defensive effort was exceptional tonight,” Cochise head coach Jerry Carrillo said. “I thought our guards were able to contain and limit the shots of their guards, which they (Western) rely on. Inside, we did a good job rebounding the basketball and transitioning into our offense, where we executed at a high level.
“I’m proud of our team and their effort.”
The Apaches host the Gila Monsters of Eastern Arizona at home on Saturday. Tipoff is at 7:30 pm.
Submitted by Cochise College Athletics