For Josephine Faull, success comes with playing what she calls "Lady Eagles basketball."
Sheridan Edgewater recorded a game-high 18 points, Faull added 10 and the Flagstaff Eagles turned on the "Lady Eagles" switch in the third quarter to pull away from the Snowflake Lobos and cruise to a 62-45 win in the Pepsi Holiday tournament at Sinagua Middle School on Friday.
Faull, a senior, pushed Flagstaff's lead to 49-28 toward the end of the third quarter on a three-point play, and the 4A Conference Eagles held the 3A Lobos to just eight points in the period.
“In the third, we were more locked-in on our defensive effort and making sure we were not trading baskets like we were in the first half,” said Eagles head coach Tyrone Johnson, whose team played its first game of the annual tourney after receiving a first-round bye on Thursday.
Edgewater tallied seven of her points in the first quarter and ended her night with two 3-pointers, the first of which came during an Eagles' 8-0 run in the opening quarter that had them ahead 12-6. Faull had an easy bucket during the outburst, turning an in-bounds pass into a field goal near the hoop before the Lobos stopped the bleeding with a layup.
Flagstaff led 18-12 after the opening quarter.
“I think we are on a good start," Faull said. "We all have great energy and we are all really smart with the basketball, but we still need to work on execution and on being consistent through all four quarters."
Both teams started the second quarter slow, with Flagstaff scoring four points in the first four minutes while keeping Snowflake off the scoreboard until 3:12 was left to play in the first half. The Lobos went on an 8-3 run toward the end of the second, but Flagstaff answered with a 4-0 burst that included a 3 from Emma Doskicz, who ended her night with 16 points and three treys.
Gracelyn Nez fell a field goal short of a double-double, ending her night with eight points and 10 rebounds for the Eagles, who had a 49-28 lead heading into the final quarter. The freshman found a cutting Rebecca Encinas for a layup to extend Flagstaff's advantage to 44-28. Flagstaff forced a quick turnover right after the bucket, and Nez connected for a layup off the Lobos' mistake.
“She has a natural knack to see the floor, push and be in the right spots than somebody who is much older than she is," Johnson said of Nez.
Encinas contributed six points, going 4 for 4 at the foul line for the night as she controlled the final quarter and led the Eagles reserves. With all her free throws coming in the final eight minutes, Encinas gave her team the largest lead of the night while at the line at 61-36.
Flagstaff finished 12 for 25 at the charity stripe.
Faull was fierce from start to finish. Her block with five minutes to play in the opening quarter turned into a Doskicz 3 on the other side of the court and Flagstaff went up 7-6 and never looked back.
Flagstaff took what the defense gave them all night as well. Snowflake tried a 2-3 zone in the second quarter, but the defense left Edgewater with a clean look from long range, and she put the Eagles ahead 27-17 on a nothing-but-net bucket.
Nez threw a cross-court pass to the left corner, finding an open Doskicz for a 3 that extended Flagstaff's lead to 30-20 in the second quarter.
“We don’t want to come down and just run anything," Johnson said. "We want to see what defense we are facing and run the appropriate set.”
Flagstaff, looking to claim its fifth straight Pepsi title, will play the 4A Cactus Cobras on Saturday at 11 a.m. in the semifinals at Sinagua. If the Eagles advance, they will play the final round against a team to be determined at 5 p.m. Saturday at the same location.
The Flagstaff Eagles boys basketball team couldn’t climb back against the 5A Sunrise Mountain Mustangs in the late game Friday night. Flagstaff fell behind early, and despite efforts to fight back, fell 76-58 in the second round of the Pepsi Holiday tournament at Sinagua Middle School.
“We always felt from the tip to the end we were in it,” Eagles head coach Nick Walton said. “I mean, we always preach to our guys that you have to embrace the highs and lows of the game. It’s not just one quarter that makes or breaks us, it's 32 minutes.”
After trading 3s in the first quarter -- seven total between the teams -- the Mustangs and the Eagles kept close into the second quarter until a 10-0 Sunrise Mountain run expanded the Eagles' deficit from five points to 15 five minutes into the second quarter.
Eagles guard Troy Yazzie did all he could at the end of the second quarter to keep his team in the game. In the final minute, Yazzie forced a jump ball after blocking a Sunrise Mountain shot, scored on a give-and-go layup, blocked another Sunrise Mountain shot and capped off his run with a deep 3 from the top of the arc to bring the game back to single digits.
Yazzie's do-it-all run kept the hometown crowd in the game, and he gave his team a flash of life. Yazzie finished his night with 21 points and hit three shots from behind the arc.
“Having that little momentum, we felt good,” Walton said. “We felt aggressive in the first few minutes or so in the third quarter and we felt like we had solid momentum. They are a tough team. They were disciplined and played well.”
The momentum didn’t last too long, however. Mustangs forward Tanner Mayer scored eight unanswered points -- and half of his total 16 for the game -- to put his team back up double digits halfway through the third quarter. The Mustangs outscored the Eagles 23-14 in the third, the largest quarter scoring differential of the night.
The Eagles struggled to recover from the run, despite hitting two 3-pointers late in the fourth, and the Mustangs would have an answer, keeping the double-digit lead the rest of the night.
Marcus Crowther finished second in scoring for the Eagles -- behind Yazzie -- with four 3s for 14 points, all in the second half. In total, the Eagles hit nine triples. Sunrise Mountain hit seven shots from behind the arc, and were led by Colin Carey's 21 points.
Flagstaff will face Northland Prep today at 11 a.m. at Northland Prep’s gym while Sunrise Mountain advances to face Lee Williams at 12:30 p.m. in the semifinals.
-- Lance Hartzler
Sun Sports Reporter