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Kofa beats Cibola for first time since 2007
CHS 12-14-7-4 — 37
KHS 15-6-13-6 — 40
Cibola — Malacah Jackson 12, Sanchez 6, Fiser 5, Lakey 5, Evans 5, Baldenegro 2, Villa 2, Lackey, Weekly
Kofa — Sally Gastelo 10, Fuentes 9, Orman 5, Patane 4, Castaneda 4, Cruz 4, Ortiz 3, Wiley
A full-court heave by Cibola's Alexis Evans missed off the backboard and set everything off.
Kofa senior Jacky Fuentes walked toward the Kings' bench, pulling her jersey over her mouth to help fight back her emotions. Sophomore point guard Sally Gastelo ran and jumped into the arms of Kofa's first-year coach Mary Kaye Garcia. The crowd poured out of the stands and onto the court to join in.
For the first time in six years, the Kofa Kings beat the Cibola Raiders.
On an emotional Senior Night and possibly with a playoff spot hanging in the balance, the Kofa girls basketball team came up with a defensive stop in the closing moments and survived the Raiders with a 40-37 win in front of a raucous Kofa crowd on Friday night.
“It means the world to me right now,” Garcia said. “To have that accomplishment on the last game of the season when it means the most.”
Kofa last beat Cibola in a 47-44 victory on Feb. 16, 2007, and the Raiders had won 17 in a row over the Kings.
“I was waiting for this game for so long,” said Fuentes, who finished with nine points and nine rebounds. “It just got to me. My Senior Night and we did it. We beat Cibola for the first time since 2007.”
Gastelo ended up leading the Kings in points (10), rebounds (10) and steals (five) in the final home game for the Kofa seniors.
“Cibola is our rival so you always want to beat them no matter what age you are,” Gastelo said.
Entering the night, Kofa (13-4) was No. 8 in Division I Section I Power Points — a mere .0047 ahead of No. 9 Lake Havasu. However, Gila Ridge upset Lake Havasu 37-36 before Kofa tipped off so with Havasu's loss and the Kings' win, it looks likely that Kofa should make the section tournament.
Meanwhile, Cibola (13-4) should also make the tournament — it came into the game No. 6 in Section I. Also, it marks the seventh year in a row that Cibola has won the city championship since the Raiders beat the Kings twice this year.
“I didn't think anybody other than us gave us a shot because we lost eight seniors last year,” Cibola coach Justin Hager said. “It feels like we really accomplished something this year because we proved a lot of people wrong.”
Sophomore Malacah Jackson had a game-high 12 points for Cibola on four 3-pointers — including three of them in the second quarter.
Garcia started all five of her seniors and it ended up being a positive move because seniors Makyla Orman and Julie Patane, who both usually come off the bench, combined for nine points in the first quarter.
“My seniors were just fired up. I've never seen them like this before,” Garcia said. “We've never had our fans like this before and we fed off their energy tonight.”
The teams went back and forth the entire game, and the Kings took the lead for good on a putback by Gastelo that made it 36-35 with 5:01 left in the fourth.
The Kings built a four-point lead with 2:14 to go on a layup by senior Jocelyn Castaneda. However, Evans got a steal and layup to make it 39-37 and eventually got the ball back on the right sideline with 14 seconds left on the clock.
The Raiders got the ball to Jackson on the right baseline and, with Gastelo guarding her, the Raider sophomore's shot fell short and Fuentes came up with the rebound — and made the first of two free throws with 1.8 left.
“I told them to play their hearts out and play defense like they've never played before,” Garcia said. “And they did.”