Salt River High School junior varsity and varsity basketball teams played host to Fountain Hills High School on January 24. All four of the squads fell to Falcons, but the varsity girls team came down to the very last possession, which the Eagles were unsuccessful at and ended the game down 43-41.
The Lady Eagles took their first lead of the game after Joy Manuel went to the basket and was fouled by Natalie Stilwell. She was sent to the line and hit 1-of-2 free throws to take the 4-3 lead. Salt River hit their next three shots. Briana Kewanwytewa sank a three-point shot to improve their 7-3 lead. Rachel Cooper finished her lay-up and then on their next possession she hit a turn-around jumper shot and led 11-3. The Eagles played tough defense and Celia Padilla-Hicks battled for a loose ball with 52 seconds left in the first quarter. She passed the ball to Kishan Cooper, who found Kirestan Timmons, who found Leann Watchman, who gave the ball back to Padilla-Hicks who put the shot away. At the end of the first quarter, Salt River led 13-6.
Fountain Hills took the lead in the second quarter and Salt River was able to keep the game close with just under two minutes left in the half, after Manuel put away a jumper, but the Falcons had the ball for the final possession of the half and they hit a jumper to take the 20-18 lead heading into the locker room.
In the third quarter, Salt River’s Kishan Cooper put away the one-handed lay-up and tied the game at 20. She was fouled two plays later and hit both free throws to tie the game at 22. Kewanwytewa came up with a big block, but Fountain Hills gained the ball back and scored to lead 27-24. Manuel finished a fast-break lay-up to get the team back within one point. The Falcons hit a three-pointer with 17.5 seconds left in the third quarter and improved their lead 30-26.
The momentum was in favor of Fountain Hills in the final quarter of the game and the Falcons quickly earned a 10-point lead over Salt River. But the Lady Eagles continued to work on the court, which began with a three-point shot by Leann Watchman. With the Eagles down by five points, Salt River moved the ball well and trailed by three points, 34-31 with 5:48 left to play.
Padilla-Hicks pulled through for her team when she hit a jumper just inside the arch with just under five minutes to play in the game and the Eagles trailed 36-35. Good defense on the other end of the floor forced a jump-ball, but possession went to Fountain Hills. Down by three, Rachel Cooper drove to the basket, but missed, which left the team down by three points.
Padilla-Hicks found Rachel Cooper underneath the basket with one minute left in the game and the Lady Eagles trailed 39-37. The Falcons went to the line and hit both free throws, but Kishan Cooper drove to the basket and scored to trail 41-39. She is forced to foul to stop the clock and on the other end of the court she found Padilla-Hicks with 16 seconds left to tie the game at 41. Fountain Hills called a time out and on the inbounds Rachel Cooper was called for the blocking foul. She went to the line to shoot technical foul free throws and hit one of them. The Falcons get the ball back and Salt River has to foul again and on their last possession Watchman fell short on a last second attempt and lost 43-41.
Junior Varsity Boys Team Improving
The Salt River junior varsity boy’s team was defeated by Fountain Hills 73-35 on January 24. At the end of the first half, the Eagles trailed 46-16. In the third quarter, Fountain Hills opened up the quarter with a technical foul and Salt River’s Marcus Norris went to the line to shoot the free throws and hit both of them. The team displayed great ball movement that began with Mahki Marcus who found Lorenzo Ruiz, who dished it to Farshad Watchman who put up the shot but the ball went in-and-out. At the end of the third quarter Salt River trailed 64-29.
Varsity Boys Topped by the Falcons 72-27
Salt River struggled early with turnovers with the third four possessions, but they hustled down the court. Daniel Lopez hit a 10-foot jumper for the Eagles for their first points of the game. At the end of the first quarter, the Eagles trailed 25-4. The team continued to battle, but was unable to make up the large point deficit.