Lady ’Stangs go 7-for-8 in River Valley tournament
MOHAVE VALLEY — Needles’ Lady ’Stangs basketball players went seven for eight in non-conference play during the season-opening tournament at River Valley High School Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
The tournament has become a Tri-state tradition over the years, with schools coming from several states. This year’s overall winners are from Brantford, Ontario, Canada; a team coached in the summers by Pat ‘Woody’ Woodburn, for several years the boys coach in Needles.
Brantford was the only team that gave Needles trouble, and that only in the second half. The Lady ’Stangs won Game 1 against Mohave Accelerated Learning Center 48-9; Game 2 against Laughlin 43-14; Game 3 against River Valley 50-23; Game 4 against Kingman Academy 45-30; Game 5, again against MALC 56-31; Game 6 against Chino Valley 49-21; and Game 7, again against Kingman Academy, 39-23.
Brantford won the championship round 54-31. The Canadian girls, also called the Stangs, jumped out to an early lead but met fierce resistance from Needles’ Lady ’Stangs, who closed the gap to 23-21 by halftime. Needles’ girls weren’t able to shut down the Canadians’ outside shooting in the second half.
Needles Coach Manny Calderon described both games against Kingman Academy as “sluggish.” Marie Mills led the scoring in Game 7 with 17; Paige Murch added 16. Murch led with 19 when they faced the Lady Tigers in Game 4; Valentina Limon scored 15 with one three-pointer and Mills totaled nine with one trey.
Calderon said he expected Game 6 to be tough. His girls ran a half-court press that caused Chino Valley to turn the ball over to create easy scoring opportunities for the Lady ’Stangs, he reported. Murch led the scoring with 20, Limon added 12 and Jordyn Breaux 11.
MALC’s Lady Patriots were able to provide some tough competition for Needles’ girls during the volleyball season but that didn’t transfer to basketball. Needles’ starters saw very limited playing time as they were resting for a deep bracket run, Calderon reported of Game 5. The younger players proved equal to the task with freshmen Julianna Ortiz, Jordyn Breaux and Rylee Chavez scoring nine, eight and seven points respectively. Junior Gabriella Roberts added another eight. Game 1 saw Breaux score 18, all on two-point field goals with Murch adding a half-dozen deuces of her own.
Game 3 against the hosts saw the Lady ’Stangs post 32 of their 50 points in the first half. Mills led the scoring with 11 including one trey. Breaux followed with 10, Murch with eight and Limon seven, also including a trey.
Murch’s score exceeded the total of the opposing Lady Cougars by a point in Game 2. Her 15 was followed by eight each from Jordyn and Riley Breaux.
Calderon expressed satisfaction with the tournament and his girls’ performance after the first day’s play. “We’re getting a lot of work in, a lot of good looks at a lot of different players,” the coach said after Game 5. “We’re just trying to work on our fundamentals, work out all the kinks.
“We’re getting our younger players some floor time and they’re doing well. Everyone is doing good work.”
The girls were set to play Laughlin in the NIAA 2A South League opener at home on Tuesday. They’ll host The Meadows in conference play on Dec. 8: the varsity-only game tips off at 2:30 p.m. in The Corral.
The girls host MALC in non-conference action on Monday, Dec. 10. The junior varsity tip off at 2 p.m.; the varsity at 3:30 p.m.