Cushmans voted coach of year, offensive POY 

Coach Kevin Cushman, who took over the girls basketball program when Coach Bill Root resigned early in the season, guided the Lady Wranglers through a five-game region winning streak and a 15-11 regular season record with a starting lineup consisting of three sophomores and two juniors. The other coaches in the 3A West Region honored that accomplishment by naming him the Region Coach of the Year.

By Kevin Cloe

Sun Correspondent/

Photographer

He said he was surprised by the support.

Girls basketball coaches in the six-team 3A West Region apparently were impressed how Wickenburg High School Coach Kevin Cushman guided his Lady Wranglers to the 3A Conference state playoffs.

Those coaches recognized the accomplishment last week by naming him the girls basketball 2019-2020 3A West Region Coach of the Year.

They also passed along that admiration to Coach Cushman’s daughter, sophomore guard Katie Cushman, by selecting her as the West Region Offensive Player of the Year, as well as placing her on the all-region first team.

His girls, after losing their first four region games, put together a five-game winning streak to finish in a three-way tie for second place in the region standings — qualifying for the state playoffs due to his team’s tiebreaking better conference record compared to the other two teams. And he did it with only two seniors on the team roster, primarily starting three sophomores and two juniors in most games.

“They also pointed out that we were the only team to beat (region champion) Northwest Christian (9-1),” Coach Cushman said.

That 29-24 victory to cap the first round of region action, which started the five-game winning streak, was the result of his adjusting the team’s offensive strategy that concentrated on better ball control and shot selection.

He started the season as the assistant coach and took over the program when Head Coach Bill Root resigned for personal reasons prior to an early-season tournament.

His daughter Katie was one of two sophomores named to the five-player all-region first team, with the other three being seniors. She averaged 13.3 points per game in region action and was considered for Region Player of the Year honors, which went to champion Northwest Christian senior Izzy Ortwine.

The other sophomore on the all-region team was Kingman’s Shauntel Crozier.

Wickenburg High sophomore guard Clare Peterson also was recognized on the all-region selections by being one of the five second-team players, which included two seniors, two sophomores and one freshman.

She was the Lady Wranglers’ second-leading scorer with her 9.4 points per game in region games, including 24 points against Chino Valley and 14 points against Kingman during the team’s winning streak.

Two other Lady Wranglers were placed on the nine-player Honorable Mention list — senior forward Sadie White and junior forward Kelsey Hershkowitz.

Boys all-region team

In the boys basketball all-region selections, Wickenburg High sophomore Kaden Conway earned a second-team selection, while three seniors — Nick Almstedt, Ryder Boyle and Ian Haviland — were placed on the Honorable Mention list.

The Wranglers finished their 2019-20 season with a 2-23 record, sitting in last place in the 3A West Region standings with a 1-9 mark. 

After eight seniors from last year’s state playoff quarterfinal team graduated, another seven will graduate from this year’s squad — leaving one junior (Chip Cordi) and four sophomores (Conway, Logan Jones, Vince Lorefice and Wyatt Sarber) expected to lead the team on the court next year.

Conway was the Wranglers’ second-leading scorer with his six-point average in region games and seven-point average for the season.

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