With heavy hearts Winslow girls advance into semifinals
By Quentin Jodie
WINSLOW, Ariz., February 7, 2013
I f it were any other night, there would be more celebratory moments and, perhaps, more high-fives going around after a huge win.
Instead, there a few somber moments as the Winslow girls basketball team played with heavy hearts in their 47-43 win against Page in the first round of the Arizona Division III, Sectional I tournament.
For much of the game, the Bulldogs played with emotion as they were still mourning the loss of their beloved coach and business teacher – Rebecca "Becky" Barris.
On Jan. 20, Barris passed away due to complications from a car accident near Flagstaff.
"These kids and this community has a heart of gold," Winslow coach Jerron Jordan said. "Coach Barris was a huge part of this program. She was an assistant for many years under legendary coach Don Petranovich and the head softball coach.
"And even better she was a great person," he added. "She gave everything for these kids and she left a lot of good memories."
And for 32 minutes on Tuesday, the Bulldogs left everything it had on the court in a rematch of last year's state championship.
"We are still playing with heavy hearts," Winslow guard Mattea Begaii said. "It's tough to play when somebody that close to you is not here anymore.
"It's really weird to not see her here because she was always here watching us," Winslow forward Halle Hayes added.
Both players said it's going to take time to get over the team's loss, but the best way to cope with it is to play basketball.
In their game on Tuesday, the Bulldogs appeared to have the game under their belts with a 45-37 lead with 1:06 to go.
But in a furious rally, the Sand Devils got two treys from Ember Sloan in a span of 10 seconds to pull within 45-43 with 38 seconds left in the game.
To make things interesting, the defending champions fouled Winslow guard Marcella Joe as she hit 1-of-2 free throws that made it a one-possession ball game with 27 seconds left in the game.
After getting the ball across the midcourt line, the Sand Devils called its final timeout, hoping to send the game in overtime with three.
"I drew up a play, but they switched out on us," Page coach Justin Smith said. "We didn't get the shot we wanted and I called the timeout because I didn't want us to force something."
Smith acknowledged that it was tough to draw Winslow in the first round of the sectional tournament and like most people who follow Arizona girls' basketball this game would go the distance.
"We knew it was going to be a battle," Smith said. "I thought the girls played real well up until that one stretch we had in the third quarter where we were not playing defense."
In that quarter, the Sand Devils were outscored 15 to 5 and to make matters worse they lost the service of sophomore post Jessica Anderson due to fouls.
Winslow, which trailed 21-18 at the break, took the lead for good on a basket by Joe with 3:37 to go in the third.
"We've played them three times so we already know what their tendencies were," Joe said, who finished with 17 points.
And when Anderson rode the bench, "we went inside," she said.
The Bulldogs also got 14 points from Begaii while Hayes and Shandiin Armao added seven each.
For Page, Sloan finished with 20 points and five treys. Anderson added 16 before she fouled out late in the fourth quarter.
In the other quarterfinal match, the top-seeded Valley Lady Pirates won, 65-47, against No. 8 seed Holbrook.
After leading by as much as nine points after the break, the Roadrunners pulled within 34-32 on trey by Teyah Goldtooth with 3:52 to go in the third quarter.
But for the next 11-plus minutes, the Pirates hit the afterburners and opened up a 65-39 lead before Holbrook scored the last eight points.
"We had to change our offense because I thought we were shooting too many threes," Valley coach Julie Six said. "That's what our girls like to do, but I told them it was not working. They were shutting us down so we needed to drive it inside."
"We were struggling," Valley guard Chelena Betoney added. "We had to pick up our game."
Betoney, who finished with 12 points, said she expects a good ballgame on Friday night with Winslow and to get the W they need to play defense.
"That's our offense right," she said. "We need to play defense and our offense will come."
In Tuesday's contest that was pretty evident as the Pirates came away with a lot of transitional points with Rolanda Mitchell and Kristen Quigley benefitted the most as they finished the game with 15 points each.
Adrinna Nez added 14. Goldtooth, meanwhile, led Holbrook with 10 points.