Lady Wranglers' win streak has them in playoff picture

Although sophomore guard Katie Cushman missed the overtime victory against host Chino Valley and scored only two points in the comeback win against visiting Kingman, her teammates overcame her absence and low point-production to extend the Lady Wranglers’ winning streak to three games last week. Cushman still leads the team in scoring, averaging 11.0 points per game.

By Kevin Cloe

Sun Correspondent/

Photographer

Like a late-charging thoroughbred, Wickenburg High School’s basketball team is heading down the home stretch with a tremendous amount of momentum.

The Lady Wranglers, who were all but eliminated from post-season action two weeks ago, put together a three-game winning streak last week that gives them a chance to finish second in the 3A West Region standings and earn an automatic invitation to the 3A Conference playoffs.

But it might require extending that three-game streak to six games this week. Coach Kevin Cushman’s girls (3-4 in region and 11-10 for the season) visited Kingman Academy Tuesday night, but those results were not available at press time. Then they’ll host River Valley (2-6 and 3-16) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, before closing out their region schedule at league-leading Northwest Christian (7-1 and 19-5) Tuesday, Feb. 11.

In their first round of 3A West action, the Lady Wranglers lost to Kingman Academy by five points, 42-37; fell to host River Valley by seven points, 42-35; and handed Northwest Christian its only loss in region, 29-24.

“Confidence is everything,” beamed Coach Cushman after his girls celebrated their come-from-behind victory against Kingman late last week. He explained how his team won its two games last week without his daughter and the team’s leading scorer, Katie, being absent at Chino Valley and only contributing two points at home against Kingman. A family tragedy (the sudden death of a nephew/cousin) kept Coach Cushman and his daughter from participating in the Chino Valley game, leaving assistant coach Morgan Macias and boys basketball coach Noel Hachtel in charge.

In the Chino Valley game, the Lady Wranglers trailed by four points, 26-22, heading into the fourth quarter and fell behind by as many as six before scoring seven of the final nine points at the end of regulation time to tie the score, 32-32.

In overtime, the Lady Wranglers scored the first seven points and secured the victory from the free-throw line.

Against visiting Kingman, it appeared the Lady Wranglers weren’t going to avenge their previous 12-point road loss to the Lady Bulldogs.

After leading through the first quarter, 8-6, they failed to score a single point in the second period (eight missed shots and eight turnovers) and trailed by five at halftime and through the third period.

Then, behind two of the youngest players on the team, the Lady Wranglers poured in 20 points while committing only two turnovers in the final eight-minute segment.

In the first four minutes, freshman Anna Olson came off the bench to score back-to-back baskets and give her team a 24-23 lead. Kingman responded by scoring seven of the next 11 points, but Olson added two more points to tie the score at 30-30 with 2:15 to play.

That’s when sophomore guard Clare Peterson came to the rescue with a three-point shot and five free throws, taking advantage of Kingman’s desperation late fouls, to assure the victory.

Peterson finished the night with 14 points, followed by Olson and junior Pasyn Leavitt with six points each.

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