The Coconino Panthers girls basketball team faced off against the St. Mary’s Knights in their first game of the season Tuesday. Coconino and the Knights battled neck and neck throughout the whole game, but the final efforts of the Panthers game them the 52-41 win over the Knights. Coconino comes into this game without Wynter Huskie, a transfer from Tuba who is expected to be a playmaker for this Coconino team. She will not play for the first 10 games of the Panthers season.
Both teams came in and looked to get the ball down low in the paint. This was looking good for Coconino because within the first minute and a half they made St. Mary’s committed three fouls. The downside was that even though all of these fouls took the Panthers to the line they only made 2-6 to start the game.
Coconino started to turn the ball over and St. Mary’s took advantage of this and went on a 2-9 run to start off the game. Panthers offense started to come together more as junior guard Kiana Manuelito came into the game and scored four points. St. Marys led after the first quarter 9-6.
Within the first four minutes of the second quarter St. Mary’s dominance continued. Although the Panthers started to come back into the game with a few quick turnovers and easy fast break points. A three and layup by Manuelito put the Panthers in a 18-16 lead, their first lead since the first minute of the game. Although St. Marys were able to fight back and the teams entered the locker rooms at halftime with the Knights in the lead 23-20.
After the teams came out for halftime the game started to become neck and neck. Coconino outscored the Knights 8-6 within the first five minutes of the third quarter to bring the game back within one. The Panthers then started to play a full court press which left St. Marys to cause a lot of turnovers. Coconino was able to enter the fourth quarter with a 36-29 lead.
The Knights started to come back with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter and tied the game 40-40. Although the Panthers were able to convert turnovers to points and go on a 6-0 run in 30 seconds with three minutes left. The dominance within the last four minutes from Coconino ultimately gave the Panthers win over the Knights. Even with the win, Coconino struggled tonight with free throw shooting.
“We need to shoot more,” Coconino head coach Martin Reyes said. “We have really been focusing on the defensive side of the ball this year, so we need to get more shots up.”
The Panthers drive down to Mesa to take on Dobson high school Friday. This will be Dobson’s first game of their season.