Tucson pulled away from Peoria Tuesday night for a 60-47 win at home. The Panthers (1-4) led 8-4 midway through the first quarter but the Badgers (4-1) closed the period out on a 16-3 run and never looked back.
Senior combo guard Alexis Cortez scored 10 of her game-high 29 points in the opening period to pace Tucson. Cortez recently signed with East Carolina and is on the verge of breaking 2,000 points in her high school career. Only a couple dozen players have surpassed that mark in Arizona. If Cortez continues on her scoring pace she could break into the top five.
Tucson was upset by eventual state champion Maricopa in the second round of the Division II state playoffs last year while Peoria was upset in the first round of the Section III tournament, causing the Panthers to miss the state playoffs. Peoria made it to the quarterfinal round the year before.
Second-year coach Robbie Harper sees a good mixture of youth and experience on his current squad.
“We are young with only three seniors but we are building on the play of our sophomores and juniors,” Harper said. “We have a couple of players who are sick and another injured so we aren’t at full strength yet.”
Junior forward Aaliyah Tolliver led Peoria with 19 points and senior center Precious Jackson added 11.
“Aaliyah has come up big for us although we didn’t project her to be the leader at the beginning of the year,” Harper added. “Precious has been our big senior and our leader along with our sophomore guard (Zya Monroe).”
Besides Cortez, junior guard Alize McCormick came up big with 11 points and Andreena Chavez added 10.
The Badgers led 37-21 at the half and 45-30 after three with the biggest lead coming after a Cortez bucket to make it 58-38 with 3:12 left in the game.
Senior guard Marissa Miller has taken over the point for the Badgers and she sees a few differences with this team.
“We are young with a lot of talent and we aren’t selfish with the ball,” Miller explained. “We work well together and listen. The chemistry is good.”
When asked about team goals Miller said her team obviously wants to go back to the playoffs but that’s too far off. “We don’t want to look too far ahead,” she added.
“We are focusing on the next game. We are more disciplined and we run our plays.”
Cortez has 1,918 career points and should break 2,000 sometime next week.
Alexis Cortez, Tucson (Sr.) 1,918
Sydney Harden, Sahuaro (Sr.) 1,337
Czarina Lorta, Nogales (Sr.) 908
Lexy Ram, Ironwood Ridge (Sr.) 812
Rachel Cummings, Tombstone (Sr.) 757
Hannah Bjorgum, Desert Christian (Sr.) 738
Reazsha Benjamin, Sahuaro (Sr.) 674
Hailey Goley, Tanque Verde (Sr.) 751
Araceli Loya, Pueblo (Jr.) 567
Elena Arriaga, Sahuaro (Jr.) 530
Jacob Inclan, Sunnyside (Sr.) 1,334
Grant Plouck, Empire (Sr.) 1,092
Brendan Rumel, Rincon/UHS (Sr.) 911
Isaac Lopez, Valley Union (Sr.) 640
Junior Gamez, Valley Union (Sr.): 634
Cesar Ozuna, Sunnyside (Sr.) 625
Santino Duarte, Sunnyside (Jr.) 619 (injured)
Carlos Lozoya, Sunnyside (Sr.) 616
Spencer Schuller, Bisbee (Sr.): 557
Only MaxPreps records allowed.
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Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here, on AZPreps365.com and on the pages of the Vail Voice and the Tanque Verde Voice. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com