Whos number two?
Both the Yavapai and Arizona Western women have every intention of making the uphill run at the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference Division I lead currently held by No.6-ranked and defending national champion Central Arizona.
But for the time being, second place looks pretty good and its a stop on the way to the top and Saturday nights critical matchup between the two teams could go a long way in deciding which squad could act upon the outside shot at catching Central.
The Yavapai gymnasium, known as The Storm Center, should be rocking Saturday evening as Western comes to Prescott Valley for the second of two outings between the two teams and the first game of the second half of the conference season.
Western (12-6 overall, 9-2 ACCAC) took the first game, winning the season opener in double overtime, 88-85, in Yuma.
In the game, Yavapai couldnt hold a 66-58 lead with 50 seconds to play in regulation and succumbed to a late 3-point AWC attack.
The game has separated the two teams, as both have dropped games to Central and Pima over the first half, leaving Yavapai (10-8, 8-3) a game back.
While Western is coming off a convincing victory over winless Eastern Arizona, Yavapai is coming off a 70-51 loss at Central Wednesday night.
I think both teams are better from having more games under our belts, Yavapai coach Brad Clifford said. It should be a good game. Theyre not going to roll over and neither are we. It should be fun.
Both teams are quite similar, statistically, as results indicate both are defense-oriented teams.
Heading into the week, Yavapai averaged 65.2 points per game to Westerns 64.2. Western allowed 64.2 points per game to Yavapais 63.9.
Western averages 44.1 rebounds to Yavapais 41.1. Yavapai is the leagues third best free-throw shooting team at 67 percent while Western is the leagues worst at 55 percent, but has managed to get to the foul line 384 times to Yavapais 337. Both are slightly above the league average from 3-point distance (Yavapai 30 percent; Western 29).
Were similar, Clifford said. I think theyre a little bigger than us. I think their guards match up with us and our guards match up with theirs. They like to go inside, but they also have one or two shooters that keep you honest.
One of those guards is TJ Manson, who is one week removed from being named the ACCACs Div.I Player of the Week. Manson (13.7 points per game) leads AWC in scoring and in rebounding (9.1), where shes fourth in the league.
Yavapai has a three-pronged scoring attack led by guards Lerrin Cook (14.9) and Julianne Forte (13.7) and forward Kira DeMorales (13.1). DeMorales is also third in the league in steals at 3.6 per game. Yavapais Kiara January is second in the league in assists per game (12 games or more) at 4.1.
Clifford feels Wednesdays loss at Central could work in Yavapais favor Saturday night.
Its only going to help us, Clifford said. I didnt see any negative reaction from our kids. We didnt play our best basketball and I think they looked at each other and said that we had to play better. I think thats going to be a positive for us.
Game time is 5:30.