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Phoenix High School

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Game Summary

1 month ago @ 2:44PM

State-ranked KU too much for Pirates

Game Date
Jan 19, 2024
Score
PIRATE: 30
KLAMATH UNION HIGH SCHOOL: 67

By Joe Zochert

Rogue Valley  Times

PHOENIX — After a strong start Friday night, the Phoenix girls basketball team fell prey to circumstances the short-handed Pirates have dealt with all season but can only so often overcome.

The Pirates have played with a limited rotation all season, essentially starting the season with five varsity players but occasionally calling upon one or two junior varsity contributors to try and create a breather.

That lack of depth is something Phoenix has dealt with to remain competitive but against No. 5-ranked Klamath Union, the Pirates couldn't keep up during a 67-30 Skyline Conference loss Friday in their home gym.

The starters for Phoenix (10-7, 1-1 Skyline) kept it within one point at the half against the Pelicans, but the quality of play dropped without a sufficient break and the Pirates were outscored 44-12 in the second half.

“We really run a five-man rotation through the first half,” said Phoenix coach Chelsea Winner. “The second half is always a stretch because the kids come out and play really hard in that first half and then in the third and fourth quarter, our legs start to go and just everything gets a little bit harder.”

Phoenix was led by Alissa Alvarez on Friday night as she produced 13 points, three rebounds and two steals, and Anabell Delgado added seven points, five rebounds and two assists.

Both Alvarez and Delgado have done their best all season to keep the Pirates afloat, and they combined for 31 of their team’s 42 shot attempts Friday.

The duo has a high usage not because they operate independently or hunt for shots, it's because they have earned the trust to help guide a team with limited varsity experience.

“Our offensive sets are geared towards them because they are our best scorers,” said Winner. “How do you not want the offense to go through either one of them? They're incredibly talented basketball players.”

With splitting prime responsibilities on offense, the pair has each other’s respect to let the other one look to score when she has the hot hand.

“It depends if one of us is taking over,” said Delgado. “Because we've got each other’s back at the end of it all.”

Delgado is the lone varsity returner for Phoenix, while Alvarez transferred over from South Medford. The starting lineup also saw Mira Jacobs-Grigsby promoted to a full-time varsity player this season, while fellow junior Mae Woodward played primarily junior varsity last year.

Rounding out the starting unit has been freshman Lillianna Quintero, who played with the other four during summer league to try and build some continuity. The Pirates also have Samy Ponce, who is another freshman being asked to play beyond her years but primarily enters the game when a teammate is in foul trouble or injured.

With Winner setting her starters since the beginning of the season, the early results forced the starting five to quickly adapt to combat the mental strain of a possible 32 minutes of action.

“It is definitely a lot going down the stretch,” said Alvarez. “You are just getting more tired because you are really taking in your timeouts and getting to the free-throw line to give us breaks.”

That type of exhaustion entering the third quarter was what the Pelicans (10-1, 1-0) preyed on as they initiated a half-court trap to get the ball away from Alvarez and Delgado. With the Phoenix duo neutralized, the Pels rattled off 12 straight points during a key stretch that led to their ultimate separation.

Klamath Union's Dianara Pena scored 23 points and Andi Harmon finished with 20 points and nine rebounds.

As the Pelicans went on their scoring surge, the Pirates were largely unable to shake off any miscues and regroup. With their reserve players still developing for varsity minutes, the Pirates are without the luxury of a player sitting out for a quick mental reset.

“I just have to stay out of my head,” said Delgado of those key moments, “because I really get in my head a lot and if I get in there, then I won't shoot my shots.”

Jacobs-Grigsby managed six points and three rebounds and Woodward had four points and six rebounds to chip in for Phoenix.

Working beyond the box score, Quintero had quality minutes as she helped guard Pena and was an aggressive piece to the Pirates' successful first-half defense, when KU's advantage was only 24-23 at the break.

Seeing her team give their all-out efforts each night has been impressive for Winner, who knows her players face more challenges than a typical Class 4A team.

“It’s grueling,” said Winner. “I recognize how much we're expecting from these players and I don’t take that lightly.”

“We have to run these girls into the ground, every single game,” she added. “We just really accentuate the positives because they're giving us everything.”

KLAMATH UNION (67): Thomas 3, Harmon 20, Hall 14, Garcia 2, Zumwatt 0, Pena 23, Jimenez 0, Armijo 0, Wilson 0, Segura 22, Neese 3. Totals: 24 13-18 67.

PHOENIX (30): Quintero 0, Woodward 4, Delgado 7, Alvarez 13, Jacobs-Grigsby 6, Ponce 0. Totals: 8 11-14 30.

Klamath Union 11 13 24 20 — 67

Phoenix 8 15 4 8 — 30

3-point goals — Klamath Union 6 (Pena 4, Thomas 1, Hall 1), Phoenix 3 (Alvarez 3).

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