BISBEE — Before teams took the court for the 2020-21 season, the Bisbee girls basketball team were heavy favorites to win the state championship. However, the Pumas didn’t participate due to the pandemic. This year their mission remains the same

“Last year’s season was such a missed opportunity to make it to state,” said Bisbee coach Courtney Borquez. “I still have feelings for what we lost last year, but we’re ready to keep moving on and focus on this year.

“Our strengths are that we work and play as a team. We have fun while playing but also know when to be serious as we play. I think (assistant coach) Heather (Lopez) and I work very well together and compliment each other with our coaching styles so it brings a lot to our team. We just really enjoy being with the girls and teaching them responsibility and how to play.”

The Pumas have experience on their side. They have six returners on their roster, including junior Gabby Lopez. She led Bisbee in points as a freshman, scoring more than 500. She, Alexia Lopez and Valerie Wright are returning varsity players and will be looked to be leaders on and off the court. With players from the junior varsity team now on the varsity roster, their leadership will be vital.

“I think (the missed season) has somewhat of an impact, especially for the younger players,” Borquez said.

“The younger players are still developing their skills and having a year off we have to teach them all over again this year. As far as the returning players, we went to some summer league games and had an open gym for them to practice their skills, so that helped a lot.”

Bisbee opened the season on Nov. 22 at the Boyd Baker basketball tournament, held at Tucson Amphitheater High School.

The Pumas play their first non-tournament game on Nov. 30 at Avondale St. John Paul II Catholic High School.

Bisbee begins 2A East Regions play on Jan. 17 when they host Morenci. The Pumas are the only team in the 2A East to not play last season. Region foes Pima — the defending state champion — Benson and Morenci made the postseason last year.

“Other teams should expect us to come out and play and give it our all,” Borquez said. “Since we missed a season, our girls are ready to get back out there and play.”

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