The Lady Eagles entered the 2011 AIA 1A state girls’ basketball tournament as the No. 2 seed from their region and were matched up with Seligman in the first round on February 11 at Bradshaw Mountain in Prescott. Salt River was entering the tournament as the defending state champions, while Seligman was knocked out by the Lady Eagles in last year’s semi-finals.
Salt River came up short over Seligman in a 61-47 loss. Head coach Shawn Lytle said this year the Eagles were up and down.
“There were times when we played really well and then there were times when we didn’t play to the best of our ability,” he said.
Lytle said he felt the team had a bulls eye on their backs and with the exception of tournaments, he said the Eagles played every team last year as we did this year.
“Most of them we beat last year and they wanted a little revenge from last year,” he said. “At times I think we were motivated to win another championship and at other times it seemed like we were just happy we won it last year.”
Lytle said the Eagles had a very competitive season and believes they had the toughest schedule in the state.
“I did think we were playing well and finished the regular season on a winning note. During the week of regional’s we had some players who were under the weather, as well as me. Heading into state I wasn’t sure what to expect,” he said. “The week of state our practice preceding our game was not what I felt was up to par.”
The Eagles came out hard in the beginning of their game versus Seligman and put together a 9-0 run.
“We were working hard on defense and we made some good decisions on offense, but we kind of stopped doing what was working and relaxed and they came back to take a 11-10 lead at the end of the first quarter,” Lytle said. “For the rest of the game it was up and down. We would get close and they would pull ahead.”
Lytle said at the end of the third quarter we were only down three and he felt they were close to making a run to go ahead, but said they picked up some fouls and that hurt their team because they were playing a six person rotation rather than an 8 player rotation we were playing beforehand.
“The girls who were left on the court were giving their all, but I think we just ran out of gas,” he said. “Seligman was the team who we beat last year in the semi-finals of state. I think they came out very focused and wanted a little pay back from last year.”
Lytle said the team is planning to work hard every day to continue to keep up the success they have started. He said they have everyone on their team returning but the one senior who will graduate, and some talented junior high students coming up.
“I think we will be able to compete, but the girls will have to work very hard each day, because now that we have been a successful team of the past couple years, we will no longer be able to sneak up on teams anymore,” he said.