The no. 1-ranked Flowing Wells girls basketball team defeated Ironwood Ridge 56-45 on Friday in the quarterfinals of the 5A state playoffs.
The Lady Cabs came back from an early 10-2 deficit and eventually pulled away from Ironwood Ridge in the fourth quarter in a game with multiple lead changes.
Junior point guard Leamsi Acuña scored eight of her 13 points in the fourth quarter, helping extend a 41-36 lead over Ironwood Ridge after three quarters to a double-digit win.
“She is a floor general,” Flowing Wells head coach Michael Perkins said. “She has the ball in her hands a lot, she’s getting everybody in the right spots, running the stuff. She is sharing the basketball, getting people easy buckets and easy layups. She does everything for us.
“You’ve gotta give the kid props for everything that she does. All that responsibility and then you’ve gotta turn around and guard the best player on the other team, you know, all that kind of stuff. She’s a hooper, man, she’s awesome.”
Ironwood Ridge freshman guard Sidney Anderson and senior forward Madeline Cesar combined to score 18 of the Nighthawks’ 23 points first half points.
Flowing Wells (20-0, 13-0) clung to a narrow 24-23 lead over Ironwood Ridge (12-8, 10-5) to begin the third quarter before sophomore wing Kayla Bailey started to take over on offense — scoring nine points, including a three-pointer that put the Lady cabs up by five points with 38 seconds remaining in the quarter.
Perkins, who has taken the Lady Cabs to the state championship game in 2012-13 and last season with several of the players on the current roster, wasn’t too worried when his team went down 10-2 in the first quarter.
“We started zone, we’ve been doing that all year,” Perkins said. “We made a quick change to play man-to-man. We’ve done that in the past, and it’s been successful for us, so we just make the changes as we go.”
According to Acuña, her leadership down the stretch on Friday was built on mutual trust.
“It all comes down to them trusting me,” Acuña said. “Knowing that they trust in me is what gets me there because I have trust in myself, I trust in my skills, I’ve worked for it, but without my teammates’ trust, it’s not there — especially Syd’s (Sydney Lomeli-Capen) and Navine’s (Navine Mallon) trust. That really helps me push up.”
Bailey finished with a game-high 15 points.
Mallon added 14 points.
Anderson and Cesar combined to score 32 of Ironwood Ridge’s 45 total points.
Flowing Wells plays Gilbert in the 5A state semifinals on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. at Flowing Wells High School.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. Murphy is a journalist product manager with the Green Valley News & the Sahuarita Sun. He is currently attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU where he is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.