Led by senior guard MiLinda Arguellez and sophomore wing Navine Mallon, Flowing Wells beat Gilbert 51-41 Wednesday night to advance to the 5A state championship game where they will play Goodyear Millennium High School on Saturday.
The game will be at noon at Gilbert Mesquite High School.
Arguellez scored 20 points and added five assists, but it was the additional hustle and grit of Mallon, who finished the game with 18 points and 18 rebounds, that helped seal the deal for the Lady Cabs (15-3).
After being up just 16-15 after the first quarter, Flowing Wells stretched its lead over Gilbert to 30-22 by halftime. Despite a 7-0 run by Gilbert early in the second half, Flowing Wells closed out the third quarter with a 43-34 advantage, and never looked back in the fourth quarter.
Performing in front of a raucous home crowd, Flowing Wells played smothering defense and dominated Gilbert on the glass. Mallon’s interior play and rebounding was a major factor in Flowing Wells coming away with the win.
“We knew that we could work it into the post, and I knew I had to step up, and I had to play hard down low to get all the rebounds I could to help my team,” said Mallon, who during the regular season had five games with at least 20 rebounds.
When asked what she has been working on the most this season, it’s no surprise how Mallon responded.
“Probably my post work, because it was a little shaky at the beginning of the season. I’ve tried to clean up on it,” Mallon said.
This is Flowing Wells coach Michael Perkins‘ fourth appearance in the championship game in 16 seasons as head coach at Flowing Wells. The Lady Cabs won the state title in 2007-08 with a 33-1 record.
While Perkins has been impressed with Mallon’s play in the post all season, he makes it clear who is the leader of the team.
“I’m going to give credit to MiLinda (Arguellez), as a senior who has played for me every year, every minute possible, she is driven right now, and she is determined right now,” Perkins said.
“When you have a player that works that hard, and you have a player that’s that driven, her teammates will follow her wherever she will take them.”
As of this moment, Arguellez has led her team all the way to the state championship game.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. He is currently attending Pima Community College where he writes for the Aztec Press. Next semester he will be attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU where he will work towards a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.