Wranglers wrap up season

Guard Ian Haviland will be one of eight seniors who will be recognized Thursday, Feb. 13 when the Wranglers play their final home game of the season against Tonopah Valley. He scored seven points in both games last week, as the Wranglers fell to Kingman Academy, 48-41, and suffered an 81-65 loss to region co-leader River Valley.

By Kevin Cloe

Sun Correspondent/

Photographer

It’s been a long challenging season for Wickenburg High School’s boys basketball team, and it comes to an end this week when the Wranglers host Tonopah Valley at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13 and visit Odyssey Institute in Buckeye on Friday.

Both games are non-region outings, with hopes of capping their character-building season with at least one more victory.

The season started with the controversial firing of head basketball coach Dave Hodges, who had led the Wranglers to the state playoff quarterfinals the previous two seasons. Junior varsity coach Noel Hachtel suddenly found himself running the program as interim varsity coach just days before the season officially opened. He inherited a team that lost eight experienced seniors from those two previous state playoff qualifiers.

So the new coach, who had recently moved to Wickenburg, focused on the team’s speed and quickness. However, the Wranglers lacked height and significant game experience, which resulted in opening the season with a 10-game losing streak. After winning one pre-region tournament game, it went on another losing streak, this one lasting eight games, before claiming its first 3A West Region win against Kingman late last month.

The Wranglers started this week with a 2-20 season record and a road trip to region co-leader Northwest Christian on Tuesday — finishing the week with the two non-region outings. Eight more graduating seniors will be recognized Thursday night in the final home game of the season.

Last week, the Wranglers dropped a 48-41 contest to host Kingman Academy with junior forward Juan Vasquez leading the way with nine points, followed by senior guard Troy Adamo’s eight and senior guard Ian Haviland’s seven. Wickenburg trailed the Tigers throughout and could only close the scoring gap with a six-point edge in the fourth period.

The Wranglers demonstrated their hustle and quickness against a River Valley team that shared the lead in the 3A West Region with Northwest Christian at 7-1 — staying within one point after the first quarter, 17-16, and down by only eight at halftime, 39-31.

Missing their first six shots from the floor to start the second half allowed the Dust Devils to open up a 13-point cushion, but Adamo helped bring back the Wranglers to within five points, 59-54, with five minutes remaining in the game — pouring in 13 of his 26 points in the final eight minutes. He has scored in double digits in five of his last seven games, averaging almost 14 points per game for the season.

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