Considering the roller coaster Bradshaw Mountain girls' basketball head coach Efren Badilla's team has put him on already this season, it's reassuring that he never doubts his players. The Lady Bears affirmed Badilla's faith in them by delivering two very different home wins this past week.
The Lady Bears started Tuesday on high and rocketed down the slope to a 61-34 victory over Raymond S. Kellis High. The Lady Bears led the Lady Cougars 19-5 at the end of the first quarter, were up 33-14 at the half and never looked back.
Kirsten Smith scored a game-high 18 points, while Kylie Morris and Jessica Olivas had 9 apiece.
Dacie Clark led Bradshaw's defense with 12 rebounds.
But Friday night the Lady Bears faced a steep uphill climb against the Flagstaff Lady Eagles.
Smith's long bomb was Bradshaw's only bucket of a first quarter that Flagstaff dominated 13-3, with no hint that the Lady Bears would pull out a 56-55 come-from-behind overtime win.
Smith hit another trey in the second quarter, and Morris started her game's 22-point run with a trio of deuces, while Olivas contributed a pair. The Lady Bears trailed 22-17 at the half.
Allowing the Lady Eagles too many second, third and fourth chances under the hoop, along with some sloppy passing, kept Bradshaw down 36-28 as the third quarter ended.
The home crowd really began to get behind their team when the Lady Bears cut Flag's lead to 36-33 early in the fourth.
Ahead just 43-39 with two minutes remaining, the Lady Eagles began their delaying tactics, forcing Bradshaw to foul. Two successful free throws put Flag up 45-39, but their hosts still had 20 seconds to fight their way back, and took advantage of their guests' mistakes - a foul and an inbounds infraction - to tie it 45-45 on Morris' shot with one second to go.
Deafening crowd noise prevented the Lady Eagles from hearing the buzzer as they continued their last-ditch drive to the basket.
In OT, Morris gave her squad a 48-45 lead on a 3-point play after being fouled.
Smith stole the ball as Flagstaff inbounded, was fouled and went to the line to make it 50-45.
Flagstaff threw it away on a pass that sailed out of bounds and Banks capitalized to go up 52-45.
The Lady Eagles energized after another successful pair from the charity stripe and a 3-point shot, to cut the lead to 52-50, then tied it at 52-all with 1:36 remaining in OT.
A jump ball went Flag's way, and it looked like Bradshaw's coaster was headed uphill again. Banks drove in for two, but the Lady Eagles countered with a super shot and went up 55-54.
But with 11 seconds remaining, and as the boys waited to take the court in a rare dual-varsity night, Morris's bucket gave the Lady Bears the 56-55 lead they would not relinquish.
"They dug real deep and showed a lot of heart," Coach Badilla said.
He commented on the versatility of his 11 players.
"On any given day, even if two are struggling, I can fill because two more in the rotation are equally talented," he said.
Morris recorded a double-double on the night, with 11 boards to go with her 22 points. Smith added 14 points and Olivas, 8. Clark contributed 8 boards and 8 points.
After Friday's game, officials Heather Mauch and Heather Risk, 7from Camp Verde, praised the sportsmanship of both girls' squads.
"The sportsmanship was amazing," said Mauch, a 20-year officiating veteran. "Both teams helped each other up (when someone fell), and after the game, both Flagstaff and Bradshaw thanked us for a fairly called game. It's a pleasure to work that."
"That's what athletics is all about - building character the right way," Risk, a referee for about 10 years, added.
"I'm so proud of my girls," Badilla said, as he moved to help them stack and stow "the bench" chairs. "This is another way they show we take pride in our school."
Bradshaw now is 5-1 on the young season and yesterday, after the Tribune's press time, headed to Flagstaff.
"They'll be hungry to get the win back," Badilla said. "They're a team that doesn't quit; they'll fight to the end."
The Lady Bears are at home next week: Monday versus Sedona, Wednesday against Mingus and Thursday with Chino Valley.