By Greg Perkins —
The Wildcats didn’t fare well in the sectional basketball tournament played last week, but they more than made up for it with an upset win in the opening round of the state tournament held on Saturday in Prescott.
Joseph City met up with rival Mogollon in the first round of sectional play last Tuesday and fell hard to the Mustangs, 50-31, ending the Wildcats’ sectional tournament bid.
“We had no energy. In the first two quarters we missed a bunch of easy shots and then it just snowballed from there. Finally in the fourth we played with some intensity, but it was a little too late,” said Coach Eric Miller.
After scoring just two points in the first period, the Wildcats found themselves trailing by 16 at the half. They held the Mustangs to just three points in the final quarter, but they had dug themselves too big a hole and took the loss. Wyatt Johnson led the way with 8 points and two steals. Daniel Bushman added 7 points with eight rebounds and two steals.
That loss placed them into the 24-team state bracket as the 20th seed, where they met up with 13th ranked St. Gregory in Prescott on Saturday. The Tucson school may have had the higher ranking, but the Cats had the higher level of play, pulling off a 61-42 upset.
“This was a completely different game for us. We played with some fire throughout the entire game. We rebounded well. We out hustled them and pulled out a big win. We did a great job on defense, playing very physical, and did much better at being in the right spots,” added Coach Miller.
Jacob Fields led the Wildcats with 19 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Wyatt Bain added 11 points. Johnson netted 10 with two steals. Dallas Elmer helped with 9 points and 12 rebounds.
The win moved the Wildcats into the second round, where they will face fourth seeded Arizona Lutheran at 6 o’clock tonight (Feb. 17) at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. If they can get another upset win, they would face either No. 5 Canyon State or No. 12 Williams at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23, also in Prescott Valley.