The Coconino High School boys basketball team found things easier the second time around against Prescott.
After edging the Prescott Badgers by nine points just a few weeks ago in Sedona, the Panthers had little difficulty in the rematch, cruising to a 60-42 win at home Friday night.
“That's always in the back of somebody's mind playing basketball, if you can beat them once you can beat them again," said Coconino head coach Mike Moran. “We talk about king of the mountain. We’re on top, and if we want to stay there we have to work really hard.”
The Panthers (6-0) have put in the work on the practice floor, and it has paid off. Seniors Emilio Esquivel, Brett McGowan, Harding Eddie and Anthony Watson tallied double-digit points as Coconino stayed atop the Grand Canyon Region with a 3-0 record.
Leading 33-21 at halftime, the Panthers only needed to hold on to their advantage going into the second half. However, it was Prescott that looked energized coming out of the locker room to begin the third quarter, and the Badgers’ defense was able to hang around by forcing a few turnovers.
“Already, we've played more games than anybody in Arizona and you see fatigue,” Moran admitted. “We turned the ball over too much, got a little sloppy."
Thankfully, Esquivel managed to settle things down for the Panthers. Playing all but a few minutes, the senior scored 12 points and forced several turnovers.
“Coach wants me to take care of the ball and mainly keep the offense going,” Esquivel said. “In late-game situations, he wants me to handle the ball and that means free throws.”
With huge plays such as a 3-point shot from left side in the last minute of the third and an offensive juke that caused a Badger player to get tripped up, Esquivel couldn’t help but smirk when the crowd would go wild.
Sporting a 13-3 record including tournament play, the Panthers have already eclipsed last season’s win total, and they’re less than a month into the season.
Coconino will play a pair of nonregion games next week against Greenway and Washington. Coconino's next Grand Canyon game will not be until it faces crosstown rival Flagstaff on Jan. 9.
FLAGSTAFF 55, MOHAVE 51
Bouncing back from a road loss on Monday, the Flagstaff Eagles improved to 4-2 in the regular season and 4-1 in Grand Canyon Region play.
The Eagles travel to Thunderbird in Phoenix on Saturday, their final regular season game of the calendar year, before playing at the Judy Dixon Boys Basketball Tournament beginning on Dec. 27.
KINGMAN ACADEMY 40, NORTHLAND PREP 28
The 2A Spartans had a four-game win streak come to a close Friday, falling to the Tigers on the road.
The loss moved the Spartans to 3-2.
Northland Prep has not yet started its Central Region schedule, but is set to do so in the new year when they take on Glendale Prep on the road on Jan. 2.
During the break from regular-season play, the Spartans are slated to compete in the Yvonne Johnson Memorial starting Dec. 29.
FLAGSTAFF 62, MOHAVE 33
The Flagstaff Eagles scored 51 points in the second and third quarter combined Friday on the way to trouncing the Mohave Thunderbirds, 62-33, keeping their perfect season intact with the win in Bullhead City.
Now 10-0 when including tournament games outside of the regular-season slate, the Eagles recorded 11 points in the opening quarter before hitting the gas. Ashley Edison and Mikaila Kayaani-Lee each had 12 points for Flagstaff, which improved to 6-0 on the regular season and 5-0 in Grand Canyon Region play.
Eagles head coach Tyrone Johnson said a better defensive effort from his team after the first period turned into easier buckets, as his team outscored Mohave (3-5, 0-4) 26-6 in the second quarter.
Hailey Armus added nine points and Monique Ware contributed eight for the Eagles, who have scored 50 or more points in all 10 games this season.
Flagstaff, heading into the middle of a three-game homestand, faces one of its toughest tests of the season today when they face the Thunderbird Chiefs for a 4A Conference matchup.
COCONINO 2, CACTUS 1
Coming away with a victory on their home field against the Cactus Cobras, the Coconono Panthers improved to 2-3 this season.
Scoring multiple goals for the first time this season, Coconino wrapped up its play in 2017 with a win and returns to regular season play on Jan. 4 against Bradshaw Mountain.
FLAGSTAFF 8, GREENWAY 0
Approaching the halfway point of their regular season, the Flagstaff Eagles (5-0) continued to roll through their opponents, beating the Greenway Demons (3-1) at home Thursday afternoon in a 4A matchup.
Shutting out their fourth opponent this season, Flagstaff improved its goal differential to 41-1 in its five regular-season matches behind the defense of Lyza Bosselman and Morgan Hodges.
Maddie Shafer finished Thursday's match with a hat trick, and Brianna White added two goals. Taylor Hazlett and Lydia Pelletier-Butler each added one goal, while Zalma Batrez-Cardoza contributed three assists in the victory.
Set to play at the AZ Soccer Showcase beginning on Dec. 27, Flagstaff will face Chaparral and Higley, as well as a school from California.