Aiden Fuentes

Willcox sophomore Aiden Fuentes scores two of his team-leading 14 points for Willcox in Monday night’s 78-55 loss to St. David, extending just past St. David senior Kason Jacquez, who would lead all scorers with 29 points.

WILLCOX — Progress comes in small steps for the Willcox Cowboy basketball varsity team, which opened the season with a 2-2 record after winning just three all of last season.

“Willcox playing .500 ball is an improvement from where they’ve been, but I expect to see better from us with leadership from seniors and with better defensive play,” first-year head coach Paul McInnes said.

The Cowboys defeated Blue Ridge 57-50 and Patagonia 40-32, bookended by a 71-40 loss to Benson Friday and a season-opening 76-57 loss at Miami on Jan. 20.

“I knew the road trip to Miami was going to be tough and Benson was tough here,” the coach said. “Our defense didn’t do well and needs a little work.

“I really liked how we showed up against Blue Ridge. The kids showed some heart on that third of back-to-back-to back games.”

Senior guard Cael DeBaun led the scoring with 20 points against Blue Ridge, while senior center JJ Lunt added 14. Lunt also tallied 12 in the loss to Miami but “didn’t show up” against Benson, the coach said. Lunt is a junior college prospect McInnes would like to see step forward more often “as I know he would like to have good game films, too.”

Sophomore point guard Joendy Ruiz led the scoring against Benson with 12 points while scoring 11 versus Miami, 10 against Blue Ridge with seven assists, and 10 and six versus Patagonia. Junior guard KJ Jones was a pleasant surprise with eight points versus Patagonia while junior forward Rico Lunt also had eight in that win.

Willcox followed up with a 78-55 setback to St. David (5-0) on Monday night as only sophomore Aiden Fuentes hit double figures with 14.

The Cowboys visit Morenci (2-2) Thursday night.

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