Mesa girl tires stand up to Tucson, 46-43
Mesas Ashiian Hunter (11) puts through a winning three-pointer in the first half against Tucson on Wednesday night. (Azpreps365 photo)
Two teams with little separation in the 6A girls basketball power rankings — No. 9 Mesa and No. 11 Tucson — met Wednesday night. Like the leaderboard, they weren’t far apart when the final buzzer sounded.
Mesa nearly coughed out a 16-point lead midway through the third third but held on to Tucson (46-43) at Jackrabbit Gym in the last minute.
Mesa guard Ashiian Hunter scored 23 points, including two free throws in the last 30 seconds to secure the win. Mesa improved to 13-5 overall and 8-2 in power ranked games. Tucson, running within two points in the final 40 seconds, had its record slump to 13-5 overall and 9-2 in power-ranking contests.
Hunter, a junior, scored 11 of her points in the third third as Mesa seemingly knocked out Tucson en route to the final quarter. Hunter made five threes for the night – all three she attempted in the third period. She was 5 out of 9 from the three point range overall. Mesa led 34-18 with 3:52 in the third period and 36-25 early in the fourth quarter.
Tucson stayed just close enough to stay in contention in the second half. The Badgers didn’t make any big runs, but pecked wide to reduce their lead to 44-42 with 38 seconds remaining. Tucson fouled Hunter, who sank both ends of a one-and-one with 29.9 seconds remaining.
Tamia Clardy reacted and made the first one-two with 21.7 seconds to go. In the end, she got the ball back after her miss and attempted a three-point shot, missing with 18 seconds to go.
Mesa turned the ball over 10 seconds before Tucson’s end. Tucson’s Skylar Begay launched a Desperation three at the buzzer.
Begay led Tucson by 12 points and teammates Clardy and Gabriella Sanchez each added nine points.
Mesa completed the game out of region and has eight region games ahead of him. Next is Thursday at Skyline. Tucson resumes play Monday, taking on the Catalina Foothills as part of a day of MLK Basketball Classic games at Arizona’s McKale Memorial Center.
Tucson’s Skylar Begay (3) is bottled by Mesas Micayla Silas (23) and Anaya Packer (40). (Azpreps365 photo)