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INSIDE BENSON ................... PAGES 6, 8 ST. DAVID .............. PAGES 8, 10 VALLEY UNION .. PAGES 11, 12 WILLCOX............... PAGES 15, 17



SSVEC Supports Our Local Youth

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Three benefits of being a Cooperative Member

Youth Engineering and Science

Every year hundreds of students in Southeastern Arizona participate in the Youth Engineering & Science Fair, famously known as the YES Fair. Awards are presented to both local students and educators, and students have the opportunity to win an all-expense-paid trip to the world-renowned REGENERON International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF).

Washington Youth Tour

Since 1981 Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative has sponsored high school juniors on all-expense-paid trips to Washington, D.C. for one week each June. Students attend seminars and meetings sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, visit Congress and the White House and see the sights of our nation’s capital.

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The Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative Foundation will present $3,000 scholarships to graduating seniors in the Cooperative’s service area. At least one graduate each from Benson, Bowie, Buena, Patagonia, San Simon, St. David, Tombstone, Valley Union and Willcox high schools will be awarded a scholarship. In addition, two scholarships will be awarded at-large to home school, charter school or private school 12th grade graduates.



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They’re the run-and-shoot Bobcats BY LINDA LOU LAMB Special for the Herald/Review

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Benson High School boys’ basketball c o ach C h r i s T aylor fe el s r i g ht at home coaching the Bobcats. T aylor g r adu ate d from Benson in 2009. D u r i n g t ho s e ye a r s he competed in football, basketball, and t rack a nd f ield. Re tu r ni ng to his a l ma mater in 2017, Taylor became immersed in teaching physical education and coaching basketball. “W hat I enjoy most about coaching is b ei n g a rou nd at hletes who continually want to get better and watching their journey through practices and competitions,” T aylor s a id . “ L a st year we did not make the play-ins. We had a rea l ly competitive team but we just had a tough time scoring. “ T hi s yea r we a re lo ok i n g to i nc r e a s e our scoring in every game. This looks very positive with all our u nder cl a s s at h let e s coming back from last year.” This year the Bob cats’ only setback was not starting practice as early as the state a l lowed because t he majority of their players were on the football team and making it four weeks past the end of t hei r s e a son and into the 2A state championship game. “We had to rush to get c au g ht up when we started because all the other area teams had a l ready been p r a c t ic i n g ,” T aylo r

assists with footbal l and baseball. “W hen Coach Taylor came back to Benson to teach and coach, he asked me to help with basketball a nd I ju mped at t he chance,” Montijo said. “We have been working hard and having good practices. Practices are both intense and fun. “Right now our players a re sti l l learning our system. We don’t have a lot of hei g ht on t he t e a m but what we lack i n hei g ht we m a ke up i n sp e e d – t hey a re definitely fast on the cou r t. T hey li ke to get to t he hoop a nd shoot the ball.” The Bobcats will be competing in the 2A Sout h Con ference. Due to the AIA state rest rictions, t here will be no preseason tournaments but the Bobcats will have the chance to compete in the state tournament.

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Sophomore Angel Rigney participates in a team drill prior to the season opener.

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Jovoni Borbon, Buena High School Football Gabby Lopez, Bisbee High School Basketball & Volleyball 2020 Male Athlete of the Year and Football Player of the Year 2020 Female Athlete of the Year and Girls Basketball Player of the Year

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Awards will be presented to the Outstanding Player of the Year in each sport, as well as Male Athlete of the Year, Female Athlete of the Year, Team of the Year and Coach of the Year. The Courage award will be presented to an individual or team. A special Sportsmanship and Fan of the Year award will also be presented.

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Improvements over two seasons have Bobcats aiming high in 2021 BY LINDA LOU LAMB Special to the Herald/Review


Sophomore Tatum Benson comes down with the ball a sophomore teammate Ally Jennings converges.

“Coach Bristow was my high school coach and now he is coaching both of my daughters,” Quiroz said. “What he taught me he is now teaching my daughters. Bei ng able to coach with him is priceless to me.” The anticipation is now mounting as the coaches and the players prepare for their first competitions. “We are all excited to just start playing games,” Coach Bristow said.


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which gives us the opp or t u n it y t o r ot at e players more often.” This year the Bobcats have a total of 27 athletes competing on the junior varsity and varsity squads. The assistant coaches are Kimberly Quiroz and Brian Taylor. Quiroz is no stranger to working with Bristow. Quiroz competed in basketball at Tombstone and was a member of the 1994 state ch a mpion s h ip t e a m coached by Bristow.


Sophomore Celina Wilharm looks to pass during a recent practice session.

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Benson High School girls basketball coach Rob er t Br i stow h a s high expectations for his team and is looking forward to seeing them come to reality in competition. “I see how much our teams have progressed over t he last two years,” the third-year coach said. “We have high hopes and expectations and we’re looking forward to seeing these fulfilled.” B r i s t ow h a d ove r 25 years of basketball coaching experience when he took over as head coach for the Bobcats in 2 018, including coaching the 1994 Tombstone Yellow Jackets girls’ varsity to the 2A state championship. Even t houg h Bris tow is looking forward to competing in both con ference and nonconference games, the chal lenges of athletics during the time of COVID-19 are definitely evident. However, while he understands this years’ challenges, he looks more to the strengths he sees developing in his athletes. “ T his is t he t hi rd ye a r I h ave worked wit h t his yea r ’s se niors. It’s definitely nice to have their maturity and experience on the court,” Bristow said. “This year we are working on different plays which will give our game a new look. We have more depth,

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Increased knowledge of the game major goal for St. David coach, players


Payton Dixon moves up to court in an intrasquad game this offseason. BY LINDA LOU LAMB Special for the Herald/Review

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Advancing his athlet e s’ k nowle d ge of basketball and their enjoyment of the game are of top priority to St. David boys’ basketball coach Nathan Richardson. “Ever y yea r ou r goals are to teach our at h letes more about the game of basketball and to advance their knowledge and skill in the game,” Richardson said. I n add it ion to i ncreasing their knowle d g e o f b a s ke tb a l l , Richardson sees his athletes working hard on t he g a me s’ f u n da ment a ls t hat wi l l help them succeed in competition.

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“Our athletes have been practicing hard, they are very upbeat and are definitely having fun playing basketball,” he said. “They are progressing well in their skills.” W hi le t he tea m is le a r n i n g m o r e a n d more about the many aspects of the game, Richardson has been seeing their strengths steadily emerging. “We have a strong, cohesive team,” Richardson said. “ T here is so much potential on our team. Most of them have played together since elementary school so they know each other on and off the court.” He prefers to keep an optimistic attitude for the 2020-21 season. “ T his is def initely going to be a unique season with the challen ge s of C OV I D -19 and keeping up with the state and school guidelines,” Richardson said. “This year was the first time we have not had games before January and we won’t be able to compete in any in-season t ou r n a ment but we are looking forward to being in the state tournament at the end of

Kason Jacquez will be one of the Tigers captains this season. the season.” Assisting Richardson at the varsity level is Kyle Merril l. The Tigers’ captains are seniors Payton Dixon, Robby Gooding, Kason Jacquez and Reo

Larson. Mer ri l l, a 19 9 4 St. David alumni in his second year as a Tigers’ assistant coach, is impressed with the hard work his players are putting into the

game. “I believe that this t e a m w i l l b e pu sh ing for a state title. This group of athletes puts their heart and soul into the game,” he s a id . “ T hey a r e

sel f-motivated a nd passionate about competing in basketball, always putting in the extra effort. It’s good to see them being able to play during these difficult times.”


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Tigers hoping defensive intensity pays hugh dividends, delivers state title BY LINDA LOU LAMB Special for the Herald/Review

The St. David Tigers girls’ basketball team is shooting for some high goals in the 202021 se a son a nd he ad coach Laron Richardson k nows t hey a re primed and ready to achieve them. I n h i s si x t h ye a r a s t he T i ger s’ he ad coach, Richardson believes the goals he and his team have set are totally attainable. “We want to play one ga me at a ti me a nd not look ahead of ourselves,” he said. “We are working on individual of fensive and defensive skills. We want to be more defensively sound. We know that it takes each individual to make our team better.” With these goals and beliefs st rong ly embedded in their minds, R ich a rd son a nd t he Tigers have also been working together for another goal – to take t he 1 A s t at e ch a m pionship. Last year t he T i ger s f i n i she d t hei r s e a s on a s r e gional champions and ra n ked No. 1 i n t he state. Their title hopes were taken away early i n t he st ate tou r nament, however, when they fell to the Grand Ca nyon Ph a ntom s in the first round of state. “Ou r players wa nt to take the state title b a d ly,” R ic h a r d s o n said. “We (t he players and the coaching staff ) are all working hard to make this goal come true.” This year Richardson is impressed with how hard his athletes are working and with their desire to continually improve. “I notice every day how much ou r g i rls like to learn and how hard they are working,” Richardson said. “I’m real ly enjoying w at c h i n g t h e m i m prove their skills on a daily basis.” He knows that this year wil l come with s ome ob s t ac le s , i n cluding the possibility of not allowing spectators at games. He i s, however, hopi n g their home games will

Honey Merrill has her head in the game during an afternoon practice.

Sydney Klump performs a layup. be broadcast live over the school’s Facebook page. “W hat we are most excited about is t he chance to have a season and play basketb a l l ,” R i c h a r d s o n said. “We do have a small te a m but r i g ht now what we lack in numbers they make up in t hei r desi re to pl ay well.” The Tigers have 11 pl ayers on bot h t he j u n i o r v a r s it y a n d varsity that includes five returning seniors

a n d t wo r e t u r n i n g sophomores. Richardson is assisted by Seneca Richardson, Shaye Klump and Breana Tillett. Seneca Richa rdson, La ron’s wife, has been assisting the Tigers’ team for six years. “I’ve seen our athletes mature and improve over their years on our team,” Seneca Richardson said. “We definitely have competitive practices. Watching them pushi n g t hem s elve s a nd worki ng ha rd doi ng


Alana Jones masks up for practice in St. David. drills, they get down t o bu si n e s s o n t h e court but at the same t i me I c a n se e how muc h f u n t h ey a r e having.” Reflecting on the Tigers’ 2020 -21 season, Seneca Richardson believes this years’ team has some big shoes to fill. “Last yea r we had some exceptional athletes but this year we have a solid group of g i rl s who a r e ve r y competitive and ready

to pl ay ba sketba l l,” she said. A s t h e S t . D av i d g i rl s’ c oaches a nd pl ayer s ge a r up for their season, they are s et t i n g t hei r si g ht s not only on big goals, but more impor tantly t he concept of teamwork. “ Wa t c h i n g t h e m improve and be successful as individuals and as a team,” Laron Richardson said. “That’s what it’s al l about.”

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Valley Union coach Jeff Baker works with his players on some defensive schemes during a recent practice.

Valley Union’s Bradly Noble, who is listed on the VU roster at 6-foot-7 and is believed to be one of the tallest players in the 1A South this year, dunks the ball during a recent practice. the team will be looking to a lot. Stewart averaged 20.6 points and 9.9 rebounds per game last year for the Blue Devils. Baker says Stewart has surpassed the career 1,000-point mark. Against Duncan last year he scored a game-high 30 points before coming back seven days later to knock down

37 in a three-point win over Willcox. Noble, according to the coach, led the nation in blocked shots, averaging 8.6. He also pulled down 13.6 rebounds per game and averaged nine points. “Zeke is a quiet team leader who can put the ball into the hoop anytime he has his hands on the ball,” the coach said. “Bradley is just starting to reach his potential. He handles the ball well, is coordinated, has a decent-range shot and he’s pretty much unstoppable. Those two guys give us a solid one-two offensive punch.” Baker describes Sonke “as the man who runs the floor,” who can hit the open three and is quick and aggressive on defense. “For us to be successful this year we need to stay out of foul trouble and be injury free,” the coach said. “The last two years injuries and ineligibility have hit us extremely hard. If that happens to

us again this year we’re in trouble.” The coach added he has a new player, sophomore Will Smith, son of Cochise College rodeo coach Rick Smith, who has some size, will definitely see some playing time and should contribute valuable minutes this year. Baker said COVID-19 has rearranged the region this year and most of the good teams are now in the 1A South. Baboquivari is not playing basketball this season because of COVID-19. The Gregory School is back and will be a threat along with St. David, Duncan, Patagonia and Fort Thomas, which is not in the Blue Devils’ region, but has a game at Elfrida on Feb. 2. “Four teams will make it into the playoffs this year, one of the teams will be the odd team out,” the coach said. “We’re hoping that odd team out is not us. For the last two years we’ve had one of the best defenses in the

conference, the offense has been a little behind. I’m hoping this year we’ll have a good offense to go with our defense. We have a lot of basketball intelligence. We just need to put it to use.” Some of the players on the team say they have been putting a lot of time in the gym trying to get ready for the upcoming season and it’s frustrating dealing with all the delays. “We’re all wanting to get out there and play against someone else besides our teammates,” Noble said. “The start of the season has already been pushed back twice on us,” Stewart added. “We just want to get out there and play. I believe this team has the potential to be really good this year. I’m just hoping we get a chance to show it on the court.” All three players admit going through Baker’s three-hour practices are brutal and everyone leaves the gym tired and

sore. “We understand why we do it but it is hard,” Sonke said. “It’s just frustrating for all of us. The start of the season just keeps getting delayed. I’m glad they finally have a set date. We just hope it doesn’t get delayed again.” “I think all of us are excited to actually start playing some games,” Baker said. “I’m just hoping there is a season and the plug is not pulled on these guys at the last minute like it was in softball.”

Go Cowgirls & Cowboys 225 S. Railroad Ave. 384-4688

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ELFRIDA — It’s been four years since the Valley Union Blue Devils last qualified for the 1A state playoffs. In 2016 they advanced to the second round before being eliminated. With the amount of talent on the team this year Coach Jeff Baker is hoping this is the year his team ends that drought and can return to the state playoffs. Valley Union was 8-9 overall last year, finishing 5-7 in conference games, 3-5 in region play, which placed them sixth in the nine-team 1A South Region. The Blue Devils are scheduled to kick off the basketball season Jan. 22 with a 7 p.m. home game against the Duncan Wildkats. Three nights later they’re at St. David before returning home Jan. 26 to host Bisbee. With the COVID-19 restrictions in place this year, the Blue Devils have been able to get in several days of intense three-hour practices over the Christmas break trying to get ready for the upcoming season. Baker, who also coaches softball at VUHS, went through the pains of not having a softball season last year. He’s hopeful there will be a basketball season this year and that his softball players will get the opportunity to have a season as well. “It worries me they might pull the plug on basketball before we even get started,” the coach said. Valley Union has eight players back from last year, one of those being 6-foot-7 senior Bradly Noble, who Baker believes is the tallest player in the conference. Other returners are seniors Jacob Sonke, Alberto Marmolejo and Zeke Stewart; juniors Misa Noperi, Jonathan and Jon Guzman; and sophomore Giovanni Ruiz. “I like the talent level we have this year,” the coach said. “The only thing we’re short on is depth.” When talking about the returners, the coach describes Noble and Stewart as two players

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Blue Devils hope to end playoff drought with defense, improved offense


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Valley Union squad low on numbers, strong on heart, attitude

BY BRUCE WHETTEN bruce.whetten@myheraldreview.com

ELF R I DA — W hi le p a r t i c i p a t i o n nu m b e r s m ay b e dow n , the coaches at Valley Union are hoping the hea r t a nd abi lit y of the players they have out for basketball this season is enough to get them back to the state playoffs for the fou r t h c on secutive year. Bi l l H a h n ret u r n s for his eighth season as head coach of the Blue Devils’ girls basketball team. A s si s t i n g h i m for the third consecut iv e y e a r i s D u s t y Va s q u e z . T h e t w o coaches have a nnou nced t hat due to h av i n g ju st n i ne gi rls out for basketball, four of whom are f resh men, t hey wi l l not b e h av i n g a junior varsity team this year. Returning this year a re seniors Victoria A r mijo, A ma nada H a gem a n a nd L i z et Sonke; junior Breana Enriquez; and sophomore Baleigh Casady. T he Blue D evi l s, 13-5 overall last year, 10 - 3 i n c o n fe r e nc e , 7- 3 i n r e g i o n p l ay, finished third in the 1A South Region last year behind St. David and Baboquivari. Va l l e y U n i o n a d va nc e d t o t he st at e tournament only to b e eli mi n ated by Williams in the first round. Both coaches say it’s been a struggle trying to get the girls ready for the upcoming season, which beg i ns Jan. 22 with a home game against the Duncan Wildkats. “Havi ng to dea l w it h t h i s C OV I D -19 is hard,” Hahn said.


Lizet Sonke and Breana Enriquez work on some ball handling drills at a recent practice. “ I t ’s h a r d g e t t i n g t hem her e t o b e g i n wit h, but t his is worse than normal.” Hahn added for reasons that may or may not be related to the pandemic several promi si ng at h letes who played basketball last year for him decided not to come out this year. “ I t h i n k t h at a nd t he fac t t hey ’re not here in school is having an impact on us,” Vasquez added. T he coaches say t he f ive ret u r ni ng players t hat a re out t h i s ye a r a r e goi n g to see a bu l k of t he p l ay i n g t i m e u n t i l t he i ncomi ng f reshmen get acclimated to pl ayi ng hi g h school basketball. “ T hey’re a l l goi ng

Lizet Sonke puts up a shot during practice. t o pl ay b e c au s e we ju s t don’t h ave t he depth,” Hahn said. “It is what it is, we ju st h ave t o do t he

b e s t w it h w h a t w e h ave. T hey ’r e pl ayi n g , t hey ’r e t r y i n g , t h at ’s a l l I c a n a sk for.”

Vasquez said there is good chemistry a m o n g t h e p l ay e r s and that’s key going into any season. “I really enjoy helping Bill out,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate to have gone to state the last two years.” Enriquez stated the girls that are out for the team are working hard in practice and lo ok i n g fo r w a r d t o the season opener. “I fore sure want to i mprove on my ba l l h a n d l i n g ,” S o n k e said. “I want to help t h e o t h e r g i rl s out a lit t le more a nd be more encouraging.” Sonke added she hopes to be a bet ter leader this year. “ T h i s i s my l a st y e a r,” s h e s a i d . “ I wa nt to ma ke t he

most of it. Having so few pl aye r s out we know it’s going to be a hard year but we’re going to go out and do our best.” Baboquivari is not fielding a basketball team this year. Hahn a n d Va s q u e z a g r e e that St. David, Desert Christian, Duncan and Fort Thomas are teams that wi l l pro vide a cha l lenge for t he Blue Devi ls t his season. “ I don’t s e e a ny easy ga mes for us t h i s y e a r,” H a h n s aid. “ I k now we’re going to be competitive. I know I am and I believe the girls are a n xious for t he season to start so we can s t a r t pl ay i n g s o m e ga mes a nd see what happens.”


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Cowboys expect bounce in their steps, seek rebound from meager seasons

BY STEVE RENO steve.reno@myheraldreview.com

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A new region alignment, new coach and new blood should point to a newer, more competitive Willcox b oys ba sketba l l va r sit y team, even in this pandemic-shortened 2021 season. New he ad c o ach P au l McInnes expects the Cowboys to make a considerable leap from recent 3-13 and 4-13 campaigns in a region that featured Pima, Thatcher and Morenci, three of the best in the state. The trio will not be in this season’s 2A South region. McInnes was a Willcox varsity assistant seven years ago before moving to Tucson and helping Vail Cienega as a varsity assistant to enjoy considerable success with recent 15 -3 and 14-3 records against 5A Tucson competition. “I was not looking for a head position when I came back here after our last child graduated from school, as Willcox is home,” McInnes said. “After talking to Superintendent Kevin Davis, he brought me back as a teacher and dean of students at the middle school and added the high school coaching gig as a bonus.” He observed the Cowboys’ recent struggles and realized it was a good time for his first varsity head coaching position. “It’s a big deal for me as I was keeping track of the Willcox record and I wasn’t liking what I was seeing and it was bothering me.” he said. “When it became available, I didn’t do it flippantly. I wanted to get in it and make a difference because I was tired of seeing


New head coach Paul McInnes gives preseason instruction to Ryan McClaine as the Willcox varsity prepares for their season opener at the Miami Vandals. Willcox as the doormat in basketball.” An inf lux of new talent and a good core of returners should give him the proper ammunition to help the Cow-

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BY STEVE RENO steve.reno@myheraldreview.com

See GIRLS, Page 18

/ basketball preview


Ana Barajas screens out teammate Lexise Morales in practice as the senior guards are expected to lead Willcox this season.

An inability to win or compete, a loss of key starters and a pandemic-hindered schedule are just a few of the challenges new head coach Garret Douglas hopes to overcome as he helms the Willcox girls varsity basketball program this season. “A winning season is our goal, but mainly I want them to work together and to bring competitive basketball back to Willcox,” Douglas said. They are coming off back-to-back season records of 1-15 and 4-12 and lose three stars to graduation as guards Jordyn Rhinehart and Alma Barajas and center Tapanga Alexander are gone. Alma’s younger sister, Ana, is now the senior leader and will team up with senior Lexsie Morales at guard to put the team on their backs, said Douglas. The new coach has been varsity assistant and head JV boys coach for Willcox for the past four years. He is also an alumni who was a center on the state runner-up team from 1997. He admits there is a big difference from coaching boys to coaching girls so far. “They are asking what can they do to be better, doing more of what I want to be done,” he said. “Their coachability,

attitude and listening habits are a lot better.” He is also looking for contributions from young players and those with limited playing time in past seasons. “Junior shooting guard Kamrielle Wyatt has a great shot and we really hope to get her open for some shots,” Douglas said. “Junior Maycee Michaels and senior Yasmine Abril are our bigs down low who are great rebounders and have really opened up shooting-wise, and we’re counting on them to stretch out to the 10-foot range to shoot. Junior forward Alyssa Rogers and senior forward Jazlyn Rodriguez will both contribute as well.” Benson will be the team to beat in the newly rearranged 2A South, while dominating teams from Pima and Thatcher will compete elsewhere. Newcomers Santa Rita, San Miguel and St. Augustine move into the region from Tucson. Shooting was a weakness of past teams that Douglas says needs to get better to compete in the region. “My goal is to at least put a shot up every 10 seconds of the game. The more shot opportunities we have, the better chance we have to score.”

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leadership role at forward. JT Garza should bring maturity and leadership from the bench as a shooting guard. McInnes is most excited about a new addition who transferred in late last year. “A f abu lou s s ophomor e from P uer to Rico, Joende Luis, maybe one of the best sophomores I’ve ever seen,” he said. Complimentary roles from sophomore Aiden F uentes “who’s in really good shape,” said the coach, and senior Cael Debaun, who has had extra time to recover from i nju r y, w i l l a dd qu a l it y depth to the team. “More than ever we need depth because of the possibility of COVID sickness absences and the compressed schedule,” McInnes said. If all goes according to the

schedule, they will play eight games in their first 16 days before hosting five of their next seven thereafter. “ T he COV I D ef fect is a struggle. We’re on again, off again, never sure if the season is going to start when they say it is,” the coach said. “Fortunately, the kids have been struggling with it since last March, so it’s something they know they have to deal with.” A nd how about de a li ng with a new coach to get them through all of it? “I think I bring a pleasant intensity. We have fun but we don’t let up for one second,” McInnes said. “I think my atmosphere is different than the past and perhaps more enjoyable.” Willcox opens their season today at Miami High School and will play their first home game of the season on Thursday against Patagonia.


Yasmine Abril, left, and teammate Maycee Michaels battle for a rebound during practice.



T h ey h ave h a d s o m e extra time to work on that skill and practice together on other skills thanks to COVID-19 delays. They have needed those delays just on a personal basis. “COVID put six girls in quarantine at one time and it put me down for a while at the beginning of team training in November. I

have a great coaching staff with Andrew Gallagher, Elizabeth Valdez and Tia Pennington that was able to take over for me,” Douglas said. He is concerned about injuries and sickness as the season finally starts and will include a compressed schedule that runs a lot of games together in a short period of time. “We don’t have a lot of depth and I don’t want to burn them out or injure

them,” Douglas said. “ It le s s en s pr ep t i me during the season for each opponent and will weaken us somewhat.” The coach is optimistic. “Each one of our players bring a different talent and ability to the team, which makes it a wide range of where we can be very competitive and dangerous for our opponents.” Willcox opens the season at home on Thursday against Patagonia.


Senior guard Lynden Smyer eyes the basket during a practice session.

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Best of Preps January 2021  

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