THATCHER — A technical foul, a fan ejection and a comeback victory were the main ingredients for an amazing championship game.

San Carlos beat Pima, 53-50, for the Eastern Arizona College girls’ 44th annual holiday tournament championship.

“I feel we did a good job. We had a slow start; I’m just glad they picked it up and finished strong,” said San Carlos head coach Crystal Pietila.

From right out of the gate, the Roughriders came out strong on both sides of the ball and took the Braves by surprise. Pima went on an 11-0 run in the first quarter.

The Braves struggled early on offense and didn’t score their first basket until there was one minute left in the first quarter. That first basket led to a 6-0 run in the second quarter, giving the Braves some momentum.

Being down by 11 points early on, the Braves crawled back with a late 3-pointer to bring them within 2 and going into halftime down, 27-25.

To start the second half, San Carlos went on a 7-0 run, which gave the Lady Braves their first lead of the game.

Pima was down but not out, exchanging baskets with San Carlos and relying on sharpshooter Saydee Allred, who helped bring her team within 2 points in the fourth quarter.

However, Pima went cold late in the fourth quarter and couldn’t buy a basket, which gave San Carlos the edge and the championship win.

“I feel like we tried our hardest, and our shots were just not falling. But we were there and it was a close game. Overall, we played well,” said Pima’s Aubrie Sherwood.

The Braves Cheridan Gooday had 16 points and was named MVP for the tournament. Pima’s Allred finished the game with 18 points and made the all-tournament team.

Thatcher beat Morenci, 43-29, for third place; Fort Thomas beat Safford, 56-48, for fifth place; and Willcox beat Duncan, 23-20, for seventh place.

Day 2Nerves, sweat and dedication were on display at day two of the Eastern Arizona College girls’ 44th annual Holiday Tournament.

Following the day of play, Pima and San Carlos advanced to Saturday’s championship.

No upsets or big surprises for the second day of tournament play, just teams trying to find themselves and others trying to make an impact.

Before the game between Fort Thomas and Willcox, Cowboys head coach Phillip Steward caught up with the Eastern Arizona Courier to give us his thoughts.

“Yesterday wasn’t a good showing for us, not sure if it was because the girls were nervous. But today I think things should be fine and have a better game than yesterday.”

Fort Thomas took down Willcox, 61-29.

Willcox kept the game close in the first quarter, but then it was all Fort Thomas storming their way to victory with the help of Layla Nelson, who had 12 points and six rebounds.

Safford 48, Duncan 19Safford chewed their way to victory over Duncan with a 48-19 win Friday afternoon, which resulted in the Lady Bulldogs competing against Fort Thomas for the fifth-place spot in the tournament.

San Carlos 66, Morenci 39The Morenci-San Carlos game had its moments, when the two teams exchanged baskets in the first quarter. But starting in the second quarter, it was all San Carlos.

In the second half, San Carlos went on a rage, going on a 10-0 run that ended in a 66-39 Lady Braves’ win.

The Braves’ Cheridan Gooday had 15 points.

Pima 60, Thatcher 40Thatcher against Pima was the game that would determine the other team in the championship game.

After a 12-12 tie in the first quarter, Pima went on a 9-0 run and never looked back.

“I think once we decided whatever we end up putting our minds to we can accomplish, and got a little bit of the pre-game jitters out and got our heads in the game. There was no other option but to win,” said Pima’s Nevaeh Grant.

Day 1The first day of the Eastern Arizona College Girls 44th annual Holiday Tournament started with some very high scoring, very low scoring and a few questionable calls.

“Today we started slow but once we got going, we did good its hard to coach a game like that where you get up so much and tomorrow we will be ready,” said Pima head coach Roy Corona.

Pima and Willcox tipped off the tournament, and it was Pima all day long, pushing the tempo and having its way throughout the game, shutting down the Willcox defense and forcing the Cowgirls to turn the ball over.

The No. 2 Roughriders took down the No. 7 Cowgirls, 64-9. Pima’s Nevaeh Grant finished the game with 14 points.

San Carlos 92, Duncan 21The second game of the day featured the No. 8 Duncan Wildkats vs. the No. 1 San Carlos Braves, and the Braves wasted no time to get the party started.

The Braves went on an early 9-0 run, and their defense and full-court press forced more than a dozen Wildkats’ turnovers.

“We played the number one team, and we kept them under 100 points. We had a goal to reach 20 and we beat our goal by one. Together, as a team, we just need to continue to be headstrong,” said Duncan’s Melissa Claridge.

San Carlos’ Heaven Cosen had the hot hand for San Carlos, scoring 37 points.

Morenci 44, Safford 34

The third game of the evening was beginning of the end of Safford’s reign as tournament champions. After five championships in a row, the Bulldogs fell to the Morenci Wildcats, 44-34.

“Our coach gave us a really good talk at halftime, and it pushed us to victory in the second half,” said Morenci’s Brigid Sylvester.

The Wildcats went on an early 6-0 run, taking advantage of bad passes and back-to-back turnovers, forcing the Bulldogs to try and dig themselves out of the hole.

Thatcher 69, Fort Thomas 58The final game of the evening was between the No. 3 Thatcher vs, No. 6 ranked Fort Thomas. It was a back-and-forth rollercoaster game that featured a few controversial calls from the refs against Fort Thomas in the first half.

“It was our coaches that helped us a lot. Moving forward, I feel that we will do pretty good as long as we play smart,” said Thatcher’s Ashlyn Thompson.

Thompson finished the game with 24 points.

With missed free throws and back and forth scoring the Eagles were able to go on a 6-0 run that gave the Eagles the edge they were looking for and gave them a 69-58 win.

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