Loss to Dysart ends Prospectors’ Quest for Postseason
By Daniel Dullum
Though Apache Junction no longer had a chance of meeting its goal of winning its region, the Lady Prospectors upended visiting Phoenix Cortez 46-22 at the AJHS gym.
After leading 20-15 at halftime, AJ outscored the Colts 14-4 in the third quarter. Transition layups by Kaylee Smith, Kylee Vanwormer and Valentina Valenzuela gave the Lady Prospectors a 44-19 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
“The start of the third quarter, that’s how we should look,” AJ Coach Victor Rodriguez said. “The girls are starting to understand that we gave one away this year from not doing the cardio we should have. I think they saw it tonight.
“(Cortez) completely ran out of gas, and couldn’t keep up with the pace.”
Valenzuela led the Lady Prospectors with 15 points, Vanwormer scored 12 and Smith was next with 10.
Even with no postseason berth to play for, Rodriguez was pleased that “the girls went out and played. They didn’t sit back and pout, and worry about not getting to the playoffs. If we had the same effort against Coronado, we should have had a win there too. We just couldn’t rebound.
“The effort was better, enthusiasm, working together, the energy was there. We should finish OK.”
Apache Junction takes an 8-8 overall record (5-3 Black Canyon Region) into its final two games of the season.
In junior varsity action on Jan. 26, Gilbert Leading Edge Academy edged Apache Junction 58-55. AJ had a 31-16 halftime lead, but Leading Edge won on a late 3-pointer.
“Leading Edge is one of the better programs in the state,” Rodriguez said. “Even though they’re 2A, they get numerous Nike tournament invites every year. I scheduled that game purposely.
“I think we have the best JV talent in the state. I’d be willing to bet on that. Even if the biggest schools played us in just freshmen and sophomores, there’s not too many schools who could play us.”
Apache Junction’s 57-54 home loss to El Mirage Dysart eliminated the Lady Prospectors from a possible region championship and automatic 4A playoff berth. The Lady Prospectors are ranked No. 35 in the AIA 4A Power Poll. Teams ranked 9 through 24 qualify for the play-in round.
Maya Richardson paced AJ with 17 points and three steals; Kaylee Smith had 11 points, four assists, five steals; Madonna Parker had 10 points, two steals; and Kylee Vanwormer added six rebounds, three steals.
Senior center Jasmine Stokes led Dysart (4-12, 4-4) with a game-high 22 points.