A dominant first-half effort fueled the Flagstaff High School Eagles' season-opening 60-28 home win over the Bradshaw Mountain Bears on Monday night.
The Eagles got their season started off well with an early Grand Canyon section win.
“Obviously to get a win first game, and with the schedule being like it is with it being a conference game, it’s good,” Eagles head coach Tyrone Johnson said following the win. “I liked the effort we put forth defensively in the first quarter, I felt like we were solid … I was satisfied with the effort and the way they came out.”
The Eagles were led by senior guard Monique Ware, who had 15 points and one three-pointer in the win, with most of her points coming from open layups off Bradshaw turnovers.
“I knew being a senior, coming out on the court, first home game, I knew I had to lead my team,” Ware said. “So I just came out strong and told the girls to keep their energy up.”
Ware was one of 12 Eagles players who contributed to the scoreboard on the night.
Before the game, Johnson said the team had worked in practice going hard after each other in drills to prepare them to run their full-court press in games, and the effort showed against Bradshaw.
As the game began in the first quarter, Flagstaff forced Bradshaw into multiple turnovers that led to a 21-4 advantage after the first quarter. Bradshaw didn’t score their first field goal of the game until there was just seven seconds left in the first quarter.
The rest of the game was no different than the first quarter as the Eagles continued to put pressure on Bradshaw. The Eagles held Bradshaw below 10 points in each quarter of the game.
Even when the Eagles fell back into a man-to-man defense with a 20-point lead to work on their half-court defense, Bradshaw was unable to get through the defense put on by the Eagles and was forced into committing numerous turnovers throughout the game.
“We are talking about hands on the ball and pressure on the ball, so that’s what we work on in practice too,” Ware said. “I gotta reassure the girls that pressure will help us win.”
In the third, Bradshaw started to score against the Flagstaff defense as they tallied nine points. Despite that, the Eagles kept up the pace and increased their lead to 29. As the fourth quarter went on, the Eagles cruised to the win.
Even with the resounding victory, Johnson said his team still has some areas they need to address in practice before their next game.
“We have a tendency to kind of watch,” Johnson said. “There was a couple times they flew through, flew over us and got some offensive rebounds. All of those are things we can certainly work on, like boxing out, getting in gaps, helping early and then getting back to our people. So there’s still a lot to work on.”
The Eagles have a week of practice to prepare for their home game versus Estrella Foothills at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.