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Kofa gets key win over Lake Havasu
Kofa 10-20-11-4 — 45
LH 5-7-11-15 — 38
Kofa — Jacky Fuentes 16, Cruz 12, Ortiz 6, Gastelo 4, Orman 4, Wiley 3, Castaneda, Patane
Lake Havasu — Taylor Yost 15, Whittaker 6, Smith 6, Bezanson 3, Chiesa 3, Jackson 3, Radine 2, Roach
Kofa senior post Jacky Fuentes was limited to less than five minutes in the second half on Wednesday night.
In a game that could have a big impact on the section playoffs, Fuentes sat on the bench because of foul trouble.
But Fuentes did enough in the first half, the supporting cast maintained the lead and the Kings held on for an important 45-38 win over Lake Havasu at home.
Fuentes scored 14 of her team-high 16 points in the first two quarters, showing flashes of aggressiveness on offense that Kofa coach Mary Kaye Garcia had been looking for out of the 6-foot senior.
“Our past couple of practices, both me and my assistant have been beating her up and telling her to be more aggressive,” Garcia said. “I think we put that in her head and she got that in her head and thought, ‘I'm not letting people push me around.'”
Entering the game, Kofa was No. 9 in Arizona Interscholastic Association Division I Section I Power Points behind No. 8 Lake Havasu, which beat the Kings 36-32 at the beginning of the season. The top eight teams make the section tournament.
“Before the game, we were pumped,” said junior guard Kayla Cruz, who scored 12 points.
Fuentes picked up her third foul midway through the second quarter and didn't return until three minutes into the third — but picked up her fourth a minute later. However, in place of Fuentes, senior post Makyla Orman had six blocks, Cruz went 6 for 6 from the free-throw line and junior guard Jasmine Ortiz had six points and seven rebounds.
“Every person I put out there on the court definitely stepped up,” Garcia said. “Everyone knows their role on the team. They know the minute they go on the court, it's business.”
The Kings (12-4) got their boost from a big second quarter when they outscored the Knights 20-7 — despite having Fuentes sit after her third foul with 3:10 left — and went into halftime with a 30-12 lead.
“We did the same thing against Kingman (on Tuesday). We play them good for three quarters but we had one bad quarter the past two games,” Lake Havasu coach Kevin Eppler said. The Knights lost 45-31 to Kingman.
Lake Havasu (12-4) had its biggest chance in the third quarter, with Fuentes playing only 1:01 because of foul trouble. But the Kings kept their 18-point lead with the help of a big 3-pointer by Cruz with 42 seconds left in the period.
“I thought that was our time to go after them because we know Fuentes is a good player,” Eppler said. “We got some good opportunities in the third quarter but couldn't get our shots to fall.”
“I hate being on the bench because I wanted to be out there. I wanted to get that rebound, I wanted to help my team,” Fuentes said.
Despite having a 45-28 lead midway in the fourth, the Kings got a little bit of a scare when the Knights went on a 10-0 run to end the game but it was too little, too late for No. 8 Lake Havasu.
With the Kings fighting for the final playoff spot, Kofa hosts No. 6 Cibola in the regular season finale at 7 p.m. Friday. According to Max Preps, the Raiders have beaten the Kings 17 straight times, with Kofa's last win coming on a 47-44 victory Feb. 16, 2007.
“Of course, it's for playoffs. If we beat them, we have a better chance for playoffs, but we haven't beat Cibola in, like, five years, at least since I was a freshman,” Fuentes said. “That's one of my goals. I want to leave high school knowing that I was able to beat Cibola.”
“It's the biggest game of the girls' season,” Garcia said. “My girls are out for the win, and I don't think they've wanted anything more than this game against Cibola.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.