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AIA365 Staff | Students

Don Ketchum

Staff Writer,

Thunderbird girls begin Arcadia tourney on successful note

Dec 26, 2012

The girls from Phoenix Thunderbird got what they wanted on Wednesday (Dec. 26) in their first of two basketball games in the Lady Titan Winter Classic at Phoenix Arcadia – a competitive contest combined with a victory.

Thunderbird never quite could pull away, but maintained its composure to fend off several comeback attempts by Sierra Vista Buena and held on for a 43-39 victory.

Both Thunderbird (13-1) and Buena (11-2) had their second games later Wednesday – Thunderbird against Phoenix Shadow Mountain and Buena against Scottsdale Desert Mountain. The tournament continues Thursday (Dec. 27) and Friday (Dec. 28).

Thunderbird jumped to a 6-0 lead in the first quarter and did not allow Buena to score until 1:46 remained in the period. Buena battled back to take a 13-9 lead in the second quarter, but Thunderbird rallied for a 20-15 lead at the half.

The Lady Chiefs’ Jessica Franco began to assert herself, scoring nine of the team’s 11 points in the quarter. She went on to finish with a game-high 23 points.

Thunderbird coach Barry Ringel likes to spread the wealth on offense, giving as many players an opportunity to score as possible, but sometimes his team will take what the defense gives it.

In this case, Buena went with a 3-2 and 1-2-2 zones and Franco, setting up near the free-throw line most of the time, was on the receiving end of a lot of passes from her teammates.

“We like to get players open on the wings or along the baseline, but with the way their zone was, their defenders have a decision to make, get out on the wings, or leave the middle open, which they did, and we dropped the ball down inside,’’ Ringel said.

“We knew Buena would keep coming after us. They are a good team. They didn’t give up, but our girls didn’t give up, either. It was a nice way to start off the tournament.’’

The Thunderbird program always seems to bring along at least a couple outstanding young players each year.

This season, the most noteworthy is freshman point guard Ozahria Fisher.

At times, she seems to force her passes, but also has some very good passing moments. And she puts zip on the ball.

“We tell our players, “Be ready (for the forceful passes),’ ’’ Ringel said. “ “O’ has a lot of potential.’’

Fisher scored 6 points, including a 3-pointer.