After an intense first quarter, the Flagstaff girls basketball team pulled ahead of the Thunderbird Chiefs, winning the battle of unbeaten teams 67-41 on Saturday.
Improving to 7-0 in the regular season, the Eagles saw the Chiefs put up a strong fight in the Conference 4A matchup at Flagstaff High, but as the game wore on, Flagstaff fell into its rhythm and prevented Thunderbird from taking control.
Including tournament play, Flagstaff has won all 12 games it has played this season. Eagles head coach Tyrone Johnson said the team works to avoid complacency amidst its current run.
"I think if you get caught up in all that, it'll be short-lived,” Johnson said.
Thunderbird entered on a six-game win streak in regular-season play, winning all of its games by at least 15 points.
“We were looking forward to seeing what they would do,” Johnson said, “to see how we would respond to a team that's capable of coming into our house and giving us some problems.”
The first quarter saw the Chiefs keeping the Eagles on their toes, as the Eagles came close to losing their lead. But a 3-pointer by senior Monique Ware kept Flagstaff in the lead, one they were able to maintain for the rest of the game.
Thunderbird kept a lot of pressure on the Flagstaff defense, but the Eagles kept up their effort and lead.
“We have what it takes to beat them, and that gives us the confidence to work hard,” said sophomore Emma Doskicz, who took pride in her team's performance.
Even after gaining a significant lead, the Eagles never let up, keeping the Chiefs from gaining momentum. By the start of the fourth quarter, the Eagles led by nearly 20 points. Flagstaff High kept the pressure on, not taking the chance to let Thunderbird catch up in any way, and continued its run of double-digit victories in every contest this year.
“I think we have fun every game and we know that we're a talented team," said Eagles senior Mikaila Kayaani-Lee. "If we play our best, then we can stand up to them.”
Flagstaff returns to the regular-season schedule on Jan. 5 at home against Mingus Union before facing crosstown rival Coconino on Jan. 9. The two rivals remain the only undefeated teams in region play, with the Eagles at 5-0 and the Panthers 3-0.
FLAGSTAFF 56, THUNDERBIRD 44
Ramsey Penza had 25 points and the Eagles won their second straight game, beating the Chiefs in a 4A Conference matchup Saturday down in the Valley.
Troy Yazzie recorded 11 points for Flagstaff, which led 13-10 after the first quarter and continued to work on the lead throughout the game. Going into halftime, the Eagles, winners of three of their past five, held a 26-19 advantage.
The win improved Flagstaff's overall regular-season record to 4-2, as they remain at No. 2 behind Coconino in the Grand Canyon Region with a 4-1 mark. Meanwhile, Thunderbird suffered its third straight loss, falling to 1-8 overall to start their 2017-18 slate.
K.P. Kortsen capped off Flagstaff's top-three scorers list with seven points. Going into all four quarters with a lead, the Eagles had a 35-29 advantage heading into the final stanza.
Flagstaff will use the regular-season break as an opportunity to get in more tourney action at the Judy Dixon Boys Basketball Tournament, which starts Dec. 27 and will be hosted by Greenway High School.