HDMS reigns supreme, collects four CJHL championships

Aaron Tohtsoni/Arizona Silver Belt HDMS 8th grade girls

The High Desert Middle School basketball teams swept the Central Junior High League (CJHL) championships last Saturday.

The 7th grade girls team, 7th grade boys team and 8th grade girls team each won their games at Globe High School in the afternoon. The 8th grade boys team traveled to Cibecue in the evening and upset the previously undefeated Wildcats for the championship.

7th Grade Girls:

The High Desert 7th Grade Lady Tigers defeated the Kearny Ray Jr. High School Lady Bearcats 37-11 in the championship game en route to a perfect season.

“When we first started out, it was a little shaky and we went from dead last to first place,” said head coach JC Sanchez, a former Globe standout. “They played very well together, shut the ball down and capitalized on mistakes.”

The Lady Tigers opened up a 10-0 first quarter lead, extended it to 27-4 at halftime and built a 27-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Kayana Jackson had 14 points and Malia Antonio added 13 to lead the Lady Tigers.

Other members of the 7th grade girls team include: Johana Alvarez, Rosa Barraza, Corina Garcia, Kayana Stevens, Allie Stevens, Monica Rogers, Aniya Spurgeon, Olivia May, Kadence Tapia, Audiyana Navaroo and Madison Smith.

7th Grade Boys:

Squaring off with the Hayden Jr. High School Lobos, the 7th grade boys pulled out a 41-36 victory and an undefeated season.

“Our boys played really well and had a fun time; it was a tough match but they pulled it off,” said coach Kimball Hansen. “I give all the credit to the boys because they work hard and play with each other outside of school on community teams.”

The Tigers opened up the game with a 10-7 first quarter lead and extended that to double digits (24-14) by halftime. Heading into the fourth quarter, High Desert led 31-26. The teams battled back and forth in the final quarter.

High Desert’s Talen Pechuli scored a jumper and added a three-pointer to push the Tigers to a 35-34 lead with 1:55 left in the game.

Leandro Simbolo led High Desert with 12 points, all coming in the first half. Pechuli finished with 10, eight of which came in the fourth quarter.

Other members of the 7th grade boys team include: Tim Mellema, Hershel Thompson, Christian Chapman, Dakota Edwards, Israel Montolla, Mathew Bolinger, Aaron Noneza, Demarcus Phillips and Jessie Olives.

8th Grade Girls:

The 8th grade CJHL championship game featured rivals High Desert Middle School and Miami Jr. High School. The Lady Tigers completed an undefeated season with a 33-12 victory.

High Desert built a 14-2 first quarter and held the Lady Vandals scoreless in the second quarter as they built a 24-2 halftime lead. In the second quarter, Caylee Longstreet scored six points for the Lady Tigers.

The Lady Tigers led 33-7 heading into the final quarter and cruised to the championship trophy.

Leading High Desert was Tanyka Cepress with 12 points; Longstreet finished with 10 points. Miami’s Arianna Henry finished with a team-high 8 points.

Other members of the 8th grade girls team include: Anaya Juan, Cheryl Cheney, Kiera Thompson, Blessing Begay, Ashlynn Gregg, Camile Olivias, Alexis Moody, Areanna Brown, Laci Peter, Mariah Logan, Emily Juan, Kylee Juan and Pearl Janis.

8th Grade Boys:

The High Desert 8th grade boys traveled to Cibecue Jr. High School to face the undefeated Wildcats on Saturday night.

The Tigers rallied from a first-half deficit to upend the host Wildcats, 37-29, for the championship win.

“We slowly came together and I am happy to end it like this,” said coach Logan Thomas, who stepped into the coaching role after the former coach needed to take time off for health reasons. “They came into Globe and beat us by two or three points, so  we had to game-plan for them.”

Cibecue built a 12-5 first quarter lead.

Keyshawn Browning opened the second quarter with a three-pointer to slice into the Wildcats’ lead. With 1:47 left before the half, Ethan Edwards scored a putback to close within three. Browning had a chance to tie the game, but missed three of four from the free throw line to cut the lead to two.

Cibecue scored just before halftime and led 16-12 at the break.

Browning started the second half with a layup and later hit one free throw to cut the Wildcats’ lead to one. Edwards gave High Desert their first lead when he scored a putback with 4:20 left in the third quarter. Edwards added two more baskets, the latter at the 1:08 mark for a 21-16 lead.

With High Desert up by five heading to the final quarter, Browning added five quick points to open up a 27-17 lead. Cibecue attempted to rally late in the game but Cassidy Swenson’s basket with 1:26 gave the Tigers a double-digit lead.

Another Browning three-pointer with 1:10 closed the door as the Tigers led 37-23.

Browning led the Tigers with a game-high 22 points; Edwards finished with 10.

Other members of the 8th grade boys team include: Anson Kinney, Emica Sanchez, Barb Gilbert, Easton Phillips, Cameron Stevens, Ryan M., Vince Meeks, Jakob Bourke, Seth L. and Orion Beeson.

“We overcame a lot of individual struggles and the kids played great. I am glad we got to come here and win it together,” said Thomas. “We would have liked to play at home but we’ll take a championship wherever we have to go and play for it."


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