GILBERT — MiLinda Arguellez’s storied career is over at Flowing Wells High School, but she will leave a lasting impression on one of the best sophomore trios in the state the next couple of years.
“I learned that you always have to bring the energy because she always has energy,” sophomore power forward Navine Mallon said of Arguellez. “She knows how to pass. You always have to be ready for the ball because she’ll make those risky passes and you’ve got to catch them to finish just for her.
“She taught me to always be alert and ready.”
Arguellez was the driving force as the veteran of a team with promising young talent, including Mallon and fellow sophomores Leamsi Acuña and Sydney Lomeli-Capen.
Acuña is a point guard with a high basketball IQ, Mallon a relentless power forward and Lomeli-Capen a fundamentally sound post player.
“They really could be a good three-on-three team,” Flowing Wells assistant coach Ken Urdahl said. “They’re still a work-in-progress, but as long as they keep working hard together and listening to what we say, they will get better every year.”
The end of the Arguellez era at Flowing Wells was a 62-39 loss to Goodyear Millennium in the 5A state championship Saturday at Mesquite High School, but her career is defined as one of a winner.
Through the first two years of Aguellez’s career, Flowing Wells finished a stretch of five straight losing seasons. In the last two seasons, the program made a drastic improvement with a 35-12 record and two 5A Sonoran Region titles.
“I am just really proud of my team that we stuck it out until the end. We played from the beginning until the end and that’s just what I love about Flowing Wells basketball,” Arguellez said. “I wasn’t even expected to go to Flowing Wells. I was supposed to go to Amphi, but I think I really did make the right choice to come here to play.
“I just brought a lot of energy, my leadership, and just talking a lot on the court.”
Arguellez, who is bound for Texas A&M International, ended her career with 1,571 points after scoring all 13 of her points in the second half against Millennium.
MiLinda Arguellez came alive in the third quarter with 10 points. @LadyCabsBBall trail Millennium 51-28 entering the fourth quarter. Millennium guard Mia Amundsen had four 3-pointers in the third quarter. #asthssports pic.twitter.com/kEgPIwKOa6
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) March 20, 2021
Mallon produced 13 points and eight rebounds for Flowing Wells, which finished 15-4 this season.
Millennium (15-4) earned its third consecutive 5A state championship behind Kassidy Dixon’s 20 points and 14 rebounds and Mia Amundsen’s 18 points, all from 3-point range as she made 6-of-10 from beyond the arc.
It was Flowing Wells’ fourth appearance in a state championship game under coach Michael Perkins, whose previous deep runs were in 2005-06 in his first season after replacing Todd Holthaus, 2007-08 and 2012-13.
His 33-1 team that won the state title in 2008 included the city’s player of the year Abyee Maracigan, who went on to a stellar career at Pima College and Idaho State.
Maracigan, who scored 1,182 points and went 113-20 in her career, was inducted into the Flowing Wells Hall of Fame two years ago. It’s only a matter of time until Arguellez joins her.
“MiLinda’s put in four years of hard work,” Perkins said. “We didn’t get a lot of wins her freshman and sophomore years, but the kids developed and helped grow our program. She deserves it, man. She worked hard, and put the team on her back many a game and got us to the state finals.”
Arguellez’s 16.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.3 steals per game will be a significant void to fill next season for Perkins, who concluded his 16th season as Flowing Wells’ coach.
Acuña had similar numbers as Arguellez averaging 13.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.9 steals. A former gymnast, Acuña arrived at Flowing Wells last year from Agua Prieta, Sonora. She also grew up playing basketball for youth club teams in Agua Prieta near the Mexico border in southeast Arizona.
Lomeli-Capen averaged 6.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game. She hails from Tucson and has played youth basketball while attending Tortolita Middle School.
Mallon, also a Tucsonan, plays for the Arizona Rattlers club team during the summer. She has developed into one of the state’s top rebounders averaging 13.7 rebounds a game to go along with her 11.6 points a game. She produced five games with at least 20 rebounds this season.
“I just need to keep improving and make those numbers bigger next year and maybe add a couple more points there too,” Mallon said. “I’ve been playing since I was in second grade. I was hoping to be at some point like this but I need to work out a lot and improve.”
The loss of Arguellez is substantial but Perkins and Urdahl are buoyed by the thought of their sophomore trio gaining the invaluable experience of playing with her while reaching the state championship game.
“They got a good taste of what it’s like to play in the finals,” Perkins said. “It’s going to taste bitter and sour right now, but I hope that they continue to use that as motivation to move forward and set the standard for what we have to look forward to the next few years.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.