A day after falling to one of the top teams in the state of Nevada, the Coconino Panthers bounced back with a convincing win in Friday’s Pepsi Holiday Tournament consolation quarterfinal.
Pushing the pace throughout the game, Coconino topped Greyhills Academy 56-30 while balancing the scoring across the entire roster. Mixing in most of its squad throughout the afternoon, 12 Panthers scored with six putting in at least six points.
“Our offense is behind our defense typically at this time of year, so we are pushing the ball, that’s our first option,” said Panthers head coach Mike Moran. “Then we want good ball movement, especially against the zone, we have got two bigs on the block against Greyhills.”
Harding Eddie led Coconino with eight points, while Joram Watson and Brett McGowan each ended up with seven. Dustin Richard, Brandon Todacheenie and Tristan Wilson all came away with six points as the balanced scoring came as a result of the Panthers pushing up the court.
Holding a considerable size advantage over the Fightin’ Knights, the Panthers controlled the boards and found clear outlet passes to begin the fast break. When Coconino couldn’t come away with free-path layups to the rim, it broke down Greyhills’ zone with its size.
“We are learning to handle the ball, to move the ball, try to take advantage of their weakness, so it is a work in progress,” Moran said, with the Panthers looking to go high-low. “They just have to know the time, score and the situation in the game and say let's get a good shot.”
Opening the game with a 13-5 advantage, Coconino then put up 12 straight to begin the second quarter. Leading 33-11 at halftime, another 12-2 Coconino run to begin the third quarter put the game out of reach for Greyhills. With a 50-19 lead entering the final eight minutes, Coconino pulled back from its transition offense and waited for time to tick away.
With a 4-0 regular-season record entering the day, Coconino now sits at 9-3 including tournament play. Finishing as the runner-up at the Red Rock Hoops Classic in Sedona last week, Coconino will have played 10 games in the past eight days.
Facing Faith Lutheran of Las Vegas in the first round on Thursday, ranked No. 3 in the state of Nevada, according to Maxpreps.com, Coconino fell 65-37 to the Crusaders.
“Trying to beat the best team in this tournament by far was quite a challenge,” said Moran, who also praised Greyhills as well after facing the school often in his coaching career. “On a good day, we might have been able to compete a little with those guys, but they were phenomenal.”
Coconino will now face Hopi at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Bruins coming off a loss to Snowflake Thursday and a win against Payson on Friday. A 2A Conference school, Hopi sits at 1-1 in the regular season with a win against Monument Valley and a loss to Pinon.
A win in the morning would put Coconino in the consolation championship game against Sunrise Mountain.
“It’s just a matter of pride at this point, picking yourself up off the mat after they destroyed us yesterday and playing with Coconino pride,” Moran said.
Fighting back and forth throughout the night, the Flagstaff Eagles fell short in the fourth quarter against the Winslow Bulldogs to close out the second night of the Pepsi tournament in front of a packed War Memorial Gym.
The 84-66 loss sends Flagstaff to a third and final game against Grand Canyon Region foe Mingus Union at 2 p.m. in Flagstaff's dome.
Leading 20-15 at the end of the first quarter, Flagstaff slipped behind Winslow 38-37 going in to halftime before regaining a 57-55 lead entering the final eight minutes.
The Bulldogs connected on a 3-pointer with roughly five minutes remaining, taking a 68-61 lead that seemed to push Winslow to the victory. While Flagstaff regained possession of the ball with just 1:30 remaining, a technical foul turned the tide against the Eagles. The two free throws put Winslow ahead 76-66 before closing out the game at the line.
Free throws hurt Flagstaff throughout the night, hitting just 12 of 21 while Winslow connected on 21 of 27, including 12 of 14 in the fourth.
More than 50 of Winslow's 84 points came from two players as Ricardo Villanueva scored 27 and Darius James added 25. The Bulldogs moved on to face Valley Christian at 12:30 p.m. Saturday for a spot in the Pepsi title game.
Matched up against the Faith Lutheran Crusaders in the quarterfinals, the Basis Flagstaff Yeti ran into their toughest test in the team's three-year history.
Falling 60-23, the Yeti hit four 3-pointers in the second half with Logan Bayer scoring 10 points to led Basis. Five other players came away with a basket as the 1A school played the five-time Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association state champions, who hold an enrollment of 1,900.
The Yeti will now face the Snowflake Lobos at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Flagstaff Middle School for their final game of the Pepsi tournament.