Pueblo’s girls basketball team is one win away from a section championship and a guaranteed spot in the Division III state tournament.
The Warriors used a consistent offensive attack beat fourth-seeded Casa Grande 60-45 for their ninth straight victory on Thursday night, moving on to the championship game of the Division III, Section III tournament.
Pueblo (22-3 overall) moves on to play Safford in the title game on Saturday night at Desert View, with a chance to move closer to its biggest goal. Regardless of the outcome, both teams will qualify for the 24-team state tournament and should have first-round byes.
“This was one of our goals at the beginning of the season,” Pueblo coach Ismael Galindo said. “We wanted to win Boyd Baker, the Flowing Wells tournament, go undefeated, and win state. We had a lot of goals and we are still working towards them.”
Both teams struggled offensively in the first quarter Thursday night, scoring in the single digits. However once Pueblo’s shooters found a rhythm and their shots started to fall they were able to gain the momentum and refused to give it up.
Casa Grande had scoring runs of its own but was never quite able to make shots with the same consistency that Pueblo did later in the game.
“I thought we started off slow and sloppy, and that had me really upset because that’s not how we play,” Galindo said, “In the second half we found our groove, starting moving the ball around, and hitting the open shots we usually hit”.
No. 2 Safford 55, No. 6 Palo Verde 26: At Desert View, Safford started out fast from the opening tip and never looked back on its way to winning for the 26th time in its last 27 games. Now the Bulldogs have a chance to avenge the lone loss in that stretch.
Safford (26-2 overall) plays Pueblo on Saturday night for the section title. The Warriors went on the road to beat the Bulldogs 54-48 on Feb. 2.
“Were extremely excited, one of your goals in the year is to win the section,” Safford coach Robert Abalos said. “Now we have that opportunity Saturday against a team we lost to at home. There is a little chip on our shoulder and we are excited about it.”
Safford used ball movement and defense to jump out to a 39-10 lead in the first half Thursday night. Senior and Captain Damareece Camarena lead the team with 20 points and junior Crystal Hasse scored 18.
“Crystal got a lot of people involved and was really aggressive,” Abalos said. “Damareece Camarena played really well at the post tonight. When she had the one on one she took full advantage of it.”