The Eagles don't take too well to being underestimated.
Emma Doskicz finished with a team-high 17 points, Jasmine Redhouse provided 13 off the bench for a career high and 13th-ranked Flagstaff outlasted the No. 4 Saguaro Sabercats Saturday, ending the second half of a back-to-back with a 56-49 victory at home.
"Our coach was telling us that there were some people yesterday saying that we don't necessarily look like a basketball team, as in we don't look super intimidating," Doskicz said.
Saturday's victory, which followed a Friday evening 68-38 win over crosstown rival Coconino, should give the Eagles a strong nudge up the ladder in the 4A Conference power-points rankings.
The win, Flagstaff's third straight and third of the week, didn't come easy. Open shots weren't falling, turnovers kept stalling momentum and questionable calls plagued the entirety of the game. There was the worry of letdown to go with physical and mental fatigue to fight.
"It was important for our older players to guide the younger ones through what happened in the game today," Doskicz, a senior sharp-shooter, said. "I think we did the best job today of reminding each other of the little things throughout the game, and we had good communication and that was what really helped us a lot."
Doskicz drained five 3-pointers in the win, some from far off the perimeter. Her long 3 made it 45-32 late in the third quarter and she stepped into another shortly after to make it 45-36, and Flagstaff took a 47-38 lead into the final eight minutes.
Moreover, after Miyah Verse won the tip-off, Doskicz drained the first look of the day from deep. The senior also came through clutch late in the game, finishing a layup off a bullet pass from Gracelyn Nez.
"We knew this week was an important week. When you have three games in a week, that's tough and we have that three times this month, so we don't' have a lot of practice time to adjust things. You have to do that on the fly," Eagles head coach Tyrone Johnson said.
Nez finished with 11 points. Redhouse, meanwhile, kept the Eagles afloat in the second quarter, scoring 10 in the period.
Flagstaff (8-3, 6-0 Grand Canyon Region) has now won seven of its past eight games, putting an end to Saguaro's (9-2, 2-1 Desert Sky Region) four-game win streak in the process.
The Sabercats used a 6-0 run early in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 34-30, but Redhouse found Nez for a layup and later drained a 3 to keep the visitors at bay.
"It's good that we had to persevere and were able to overcome some of their runs and toughness," Johnson said.
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Doskicz said the Eagles bench looks better than she can remember in her four years.
"When they come in, they are giving their all. I appreciate that and we all appreciate that," Doskicz said.
Nez was the recipient of a shove that came late in the game after a foul had already been called. It was the second time in the game a Saguaro player did such an action, but the officials didn't call a technical foul for either -- despite giving a warning upon the first instance.
Redhouse collected her own rebound in the second quarter and laid it in to make it a five-point game in favor of Saguaro. Her basket inside the paint not long later with about five minutes to play in the quarter gave Flagstaff its second and final lead of the game at 20-19, as the Eagles allowed the Sabercats to connect on one field quarter and one free throw in the period.
"I feel more confident going to my bench," Johnson said.
Verse finished with five points.
Flagstaff remains home to pick back up the region schedule and is set to face Lee Williams at 5:30 on Tuesday.
Coconino's Pedro Billups finished as runner-up at the Doc Wright Invitational in Winslow Saturday, a year after the senior won the prestigious event at 106 pounds.
Billups, competing at 120 pounds this year, edged a Mogollon wrestler 2-1 in the semifinals before falling on a 13-9 decision in the title round to a Marana athlete.
On the girls side of the event, the first girls Doc Wright invite, Flagstaff's Karis Begaye pinned Jessica Birk of Pinnacle in four minutes and 11 seconds for a crown at 110 pounds.
NAZ Elite got two top-10 finishes at the USATF Cross Country Championships on Saturday in San Diego.
Danielle Shanahan finished in sixth place overall in the women's 6K race, qualifying for a spot to represent the United States at the Pan Am Championships next month. Making his debut for the team, Nick Hauger finished in fifth place in the men's 8K race, also getting a spot for the Pan Am event.
Also, NAZ Elite had Scott Smith and Scott Fauble withdraw from the Sunday half marathon in Phoenix due to illness.
Mike Hartman can be reached at 556-2255 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @AZDS_Hartman.