Salpointe improved to 9-1 on the year after beating Tucson 57-38 at home Thursday night. The Lancers are off to one of the best starts in school history and the Badgers are hoping to build on a team led by youth.
Salpointe lost to Sahuaro in the final of the preseason Boyd Baker Tip Off Classic but the team remains undefeated at 6-0 in power-ranking games with a game at Sunnyside (5-4) scheduled for Tomorrow night before the team heads off to the Lady Titan Winter Hoops Classic hosted by Arcadia.
Sahuaro and Salpointe are 4A Kino Region foes so the teams will face each other two more times in the regular season.
Tucson (6-6) started out hot with a 5-1 record, including big wins over Marana and Ironwood Ridge, but the Badgers went 0-4 at the La Jolla Country Day Tournament held in California. The loss to Salpointe still leaves the team with a 3-1 record in games that count, however.
“We are young and we only have a handful of players with varsity experience,” Tucson head coach Annette Gutierrez said. “We started well because we took care of the ball and executed.”
Salpointe and Tucson battled back and forth early to a 6-6 tie with 3:50 left in the first period but the Badgers went cold and did not score again until the 5:55 mark in the second. By then, the Lancers had taken over to build a 21-6 lead. Turnovers the rest of the way prevented the team from getting back into contention and the two teams played almost evenly the rest of the way.
Salpointe junior Jaya Nelson led all scorers with 18 points, Jr. Brianna Arizmendi added 12 and So. Kylee Callahan put in ten. Nelson’s brother, Evan Nelson, is headed to Harvard and Jaya has also positioned herself for higher-level offers due to her prowess in the classroom and on the court.
The Badgers were led by Ahidali Dehuelbes and her 13 points. Dehuelbes averaged 7.6 points as sophomore last year and she is the leader on the court this year with four of the top five scorers graduated from the 2018 season.
Things don’t get much easier for the Badgers with a trip to Chandler (10-1) slated for Friday night and a trip to Westwood (6-1) scheduled for next Tuesday.
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he 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 and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019. Contact Andy Morales at email@example.com