A 58-43 win over old 3A West rival Wickenburg High School on Saturday, Jan. 8, gave Head Coach Darren Gagnon something to smile about after a tough loss less than 24 hours earlier.
The Camp Verde High School boys basketball team traveled to Scottsdale Christian High School, which is ranked No. 2 in the Arizona Interscholastic Association power point polls, and almost pulled an upset.
The Cowboys lost 62-50, but Gagnon said his boys played very well.
Against Wickenburg on Saturday, the Cowboys looked a little exhausted having gotten back around midnight from the road trip, then having to turn around and play at 4 p.m. the next day.
“It was one of the ugliest games I’ve ever seen,” Gagnon said with a big smile. “It was two teams playing crappy. The boys were tired for sure.”
Junior Jake Spleiss turned in his best game of the season, scoring 22 points while grabbing 17 rebounds and the Cowboys were too much for the lowly Wranglers.
“You have to give Wickenburg credit. They played very hard. When you don’t have a lot of talent, you can make up for it with how hard you play,” Gagnon said.
Senior Trey Cooper turned in 11 points, nine rebounds and three assists while fellow senior teammate Shaq Watahomigie scored 10 points and recorded five rebounds and two assists.
Camp Verde took a 15-6 lead after the first quarter of play but tied the Wranglers 20-20 over the next two periods to lead 35-26 heading into the fourth quarter.
Shortly before the third period ended, Gagnon started putting in his bench to give them some playing time since an 18-point lead seemed safe. In the last two minutes, Camp Verde surrendered a few easy baskets as Wickenburg cut the lead to nine.
Down the stretch the Cowboys were 15-18 from the free-throw line, easily their best effort from the charity stripe this season.
“You could see we weren’t crisp from being tired but our free-throw shots weren’t affected. Shooting 83 percent is a big improvement for us,” Gagnon said.
“This Wickenburg team might sneak up on someone someday.”
With the win, Camp Verde improves to 7-9 overall this season. The Cowboys are 4-3 in AIA power point play, which ranks them at No. 21 overall so far this season.
“Having played a tough schedule this year will really help us toward the end of the season in the standings and on the court,” Gagnon said.
The Cowboys were in action again Tuesday, Jan. 11, as they traveled to cross-valley rival Sedona Red Rock High School. Results were unavailable at press time.
Next up, Camp Verde will travel to Wickenburg on Thursday, Jan. 13. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.