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Shooting Struggles Sour Saturday: Eagles Girls Basketball Falls in Tournament Final

The Flagstaff girls basketball team had the best finish of the three local high school squads at the Pepsi Holiday Tournament this weekend at Flagstaff High School. The Coconino girls and Flagstaff boys were also in attendance. Flagstaff’s girls team went 4-1 overall in the exhibition tournament, reaching the championship game. Along the way, the Eagles defeated Sunrise Mountain — the defending 5A Conference champion — in the semifinal round.

However, against the Show Low Cougars, who were the 3A runner-up in the 2022-23 campaign, Flagstaff’s offense fell flat. Show Low won, 42-39, beating the Eagles on their home floor Saturday evening. After scoring over 60 points in each of the four previous contests, Flagstaff couldn’t hit shots at anywhere near a consistent clip.

Show Low’s defense, primarily a zone, forced the Eagles into several turnovers. And Flagstaff’s open 3-pointers didn’t fall at the rate they were used to. Down 27-23 at halftime, the Eagles’ defense kept them in the contest. But, they didn’t score until senior Morningrain Honani hit a 3 with 30 seconds left in the period. The Eagles got within one late in the game. Senior Jazmine Dugi went on a 5-0 run by herself, hitting a 3 and then a layup to trail just 40-39 with 41 seconds left.

With 25 seconds remaining, the Eagles drew a charge and had a chance to win at the end. However, with one second left, Flagstaff was called for a charge on the final shot. The Cougars hit a pair of free throws to ice the contest. Honani led the Eagles with 17 points. Dugi added 13. Flagstaff (2-2, 0-0 Grand Canyon) will resume regular-season play with a road contest at Prescott Tuesday.

Coach Tyrone Johnson said one of the positive parts of the tournament was that his bench players could play extended minutes and gain experience.

“We’ve adjusted our roster a little bit and we’ve got some girls that have the competitive spirit, and they’re making the older girls better. You can see the depth adding to the skill set of the team,” he said.

Coconino girls

The Panthers went 1-3 in the tournament, falling to tough opponents in Sunrise Mountain and Chinle in the group stage. Coconino dropped its first bracket game to Valley Christian, 50-42, but rebounded with a victory over Bourgade Catholic, 68-40, in the final contest on Saturday. The Panthers 3-2 (0-0 Grand Canyon) will host Paradise Honors Tuesday.

Flagstaff boys

The Eagles went 3-3, including a 2-1 mark in group play. After wins over Winslow and Kingman Academy, Flagstaff faced off with Johnson County from Mountain City, Tennessee, in the first round of the bracket. The Eagles and Longhorns battled throughout, trading leads until the final minutes.

With 48 seconds remaining, senior Ethan Laughing hit a layup after securing an offensive rebound to take a lead. With 27 seconds remaining, he hit a pair of free throws to ice the game. Senior Jake Centner scored a team-high 16 points. Junior Colton Andersen chipped in 15, including nine in the second half.

Flagstaff (0-3, 0-0 Grand Canyon) hopes some solid play in the tournament will give it a boost when it resumes play in the regular season.

“It’s just progress to keep moving forward and get to a better season than we had last year,” Centner said. “These wins give us confidence with our matchups and confidence with the chemistry we’re trying to build.”

The Eagles lost to Arizona College Prep and Arizona Lutheran Academy Saturday to end the day. They’ll visit Cactus Shadows for a nonconference matchup Wednesda in Phoenix.

Source: Arizona Daily Sun