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Agua Fria ousted in 5A play-in game

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Lady Owls finish above expectations in 2016-17

Agua Fria girls basketball couldn’t overcome a cold-shooting fourth quarter and fell Feb. 9 to visiting No. 17 Marana Mountain View 36-28 in the 5A play-in round.

Sophomore Sophia Dunne led the way for the Lady Owls with 18 points, but it wasn’t enough to propel the team to victory. Agua Fria didn’t hit a field goal in the fourth quarter, it’s only two points coming from two made free throws by Dunne.

I don’t think [we had nerves] going in, but I think toward the end, in crunch time, we did,” Agua Fria coach Sam Polvino said. “I think we pressed a little bit too hard. We got down four or five and made a basket and some free throws, but then kind of gave up some easy baskets on the other end. We kind of forced some things, I thought.”

Agua Fria trailed 17-13 after a half where neither team could get in the flow offensively.

The teams went back and forth in the third quarter. Agua Fria tied the game twice, but was unable to retake the lead it lost in the first half. Mountain View held a one-point advantage at the end of the third quarter, 27-26, and only scored nine in the fourth, but Agua Fria’s cold shooting performance from the field gave the contest to Mountain View.

Polvino was proud of his team’s effort level throughout the game, he said.

Can’t fault the effort,” he said. “No effort issues. I think we were a little tight toward the end there when they broke the press a couple of times.”

Jazzy Hughes led the Lady Mountain Lions with 17 points. Rylee Hernandez had eight.

Agua Fria finished the season one victory shy of the 20-win marker at 19-9. The Lady Owls’ 7-3 region record was good enough for second place in the Desert West Region, behind only Desert Edge.

Building a foundation

Agua Fria started two freshmen and three sophomores in the playoff game. Polvino said he hopes the playoff appearance can be a springboard to bigger and better things as the young core improves together.

It’s a great learning experience,” he said. “Nobody expected us to be in this position at all. To be where we are is really good. Hopefully, they learned a valuable lesson.”

Agua Fria will lose only three seniors from a varsity roster of 13: Jerri King, Cynthia Encinas and Tiarra Franklin.

The good news for the Lady Owls’ continuity is the team will be returning its top four leading scorers for the next two seasons: Dunne, Tynica Gilmore, Brooke Rodgers and Kamiah Price.

With the talent returning, and the good team chemistry, the Lady Owls could end up a force to be reckoned with in the coming years, Polvino said.

It’s a great group of kids, no attitudes, everybody works hard,” he said. “They have a lot of fun. Can’t fault them for anything. [They have to] just learn from it and get ready for next year.”

 

Shane McOwen can be reached at smcowen@westvalleyview.com or on Twitter @ShaneMcOwen.

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