BISBEE — No. 3 Thatcher took down No. 2 Bisbee 49-48 Friday night to claim the 2A East Region championship.
The Pumas had a chance to steal the win with seconds left but were unable to get a shot off before the buzzer sounded. There were questions on whether or not a foul was called before time expired, but the referee deemed the game was over without a foul call.
Despite the loss, Bisbee should still be ranked high enough to host a playoff game. The state playoffs start this week.
Friday’s game was a roller coaster ride for both teams. Thatcher scored the first bucket of the game, but Bisbee answered with one of their own soon after. The Eagles scored three consecutive points midway through the quarter to hold a 8-5 advantage. Jenitzia Valenzuela hit a 3-pointer with 3:35 on the clock to tie the game 8-8. Thatcher scored the next bucket, but Bisbee out scored Thatcher 9-2 in the last three minutes of the quarter to lead 17-12 after the first quarter.
The Eagles capitalized on a three-point play to pull with in two points of the Pumas less than 30 seconds into the new frame. Roughly two minutes later, Thatcher tied the game 19-19 with 5:26 on the clock and once again 21-21 with 3:50 left in the half. The Eagles added seven points to their score before the Pumas hit another basket. Bisbee was held to five points in the second quarter and trailed 28-23 at halftime.
Turnovers and poor rebounding hurt Bisbee the entire game as they couldn’t generate second chances or get in their offensive rhythm because of poor passing and turnovers.
Bisbee used the 3-point line to get back in the game in the third quarter. They drilled three late in the frame to climb from a 32-27 deficit to a 36-35 lead, which carried into the fourth quarter. Bisbee carried their lead through most of the final eight minutes, but Thatcher chipped their way back into the game and took over the lead 46-45 with 2:46 on the clock. Gabby Lopez, who scored nine of Bisbee’s 12 fourth-quarter points, hit a 3-pointer with 1:35 to give Bisbee a 48-46 advantage. But the lead lasted 15 seconds as Thatcher answered with what turned out to be the game winning 3-pointer.
Lopez led the Pumas with 24 points and Valenzuela was next on the team with seven.
Bisbee is currently ranked No. 2 and awaits to see who their first opponent in the state championship tournament will be after the play-in games on Tuesday.