GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — For a team decimated by injuries this season, the Phantoms were firmly within upset territory for the entire game against the top-ranked Mustangs Jan. 11.
The Phantoms held their own against the Mustangs, trading baskets and going down by only two points in the first period. Senior Aleryn Reid led the offense and junior Melakai Longhoma provided a dominating presence in the paint, keeping the Phantoms nearly even heading into the locker room at the half down by a single point.
The Phantoms’ defense was in high gear even after losing Rufus Keebahe to an injury, holding the Mustangs even in the third period. The Mustangs offense recovered in the final frame, however, and the Phantoms were unable to hang on at the end, losing 55-48.
It was a solid, balanced attack from a team that has at times struggled to maintain consistent scoring throughout four quarters of basketball.
Reid led the scoring attack for the Phantoms with 19 points, six assists and four steals. Reid’s energy on the court allowed Longhoma to take up residence in the paint, scoring 15 points and pulling in 10 rebounds, 7 of them offensive, giving the Phantoms several second-chance scoring opportunities. Junior Cordell Bob and senior Elijah Dugi offered up six points apiece, all of them from downtown, with Dugi also grabbing four rebounds.
The Phantoms were back in action against Mayer the following day. The team started off hot against the Wildcats with a 17 to 5 run in the first period, but were unable to keep up the same pace in the second quarter, during which Mayer whittled a 12-point deficit down to one before heading into intermission.
Both teams came out strong in the third period, with Mayer breaking through to lead by three points at the end of the frame. The Phantoms offense couldn’t get going again in the fourth and was outscored 18 to 8 as Mayer built on a slim lead. The Phantoms lost the game by 12 points, 61-49.
The Phantoms will play the BASIS Yeti in Flagstaff Jan. 18.
Lady Phantoms split pair of road games
Following a runaway win against Williams, the Lady Phantoms’ persistent high scorers were smothered by Mogollon’s defense Jan. 11 as the team took a tough loss to the Lady Mustangs.
Mogollon set a rapid pace for scoring in the first half, outscoring the Lady Phantoms 21-7 in the first frame and 20-3 in the second, taking a commanding 41-10 lead into the locker room at halftime. High scorers Cayli Miles and Savannah Longhoma were never able to get into a rhythm, and the Lady Phantoms were held to a single point in the third period. The Lady Phantoms were able to put a damper on the Lady Mustangs’ offense and outscore them in the final period, but the damage had been done and the Lady Phantoms fell 66-21.
Miles and Longhoma, who normally accumulate 10 to 20 points each, scored a combined five points and five rebounds. The team had better luck in the paint, with sophomore Kara Austin breaking out for 10 points and six rebounds. Sophomore Calley Scheller added a field goal and six rebounds, while Alana Keebahe hauled down another six rebounds, although the Lady Phantoms were unable to convert on the second chance points.
The Lady Phantoms fared better the following day against Mayer, regaining their scoring attack and stepping up the defense. The Lady Phantoms started the game on a hot streak, outscoring the Lady Wildcats 22-6 in the first period before losing some steam in the second. The Lady Phantoms took a commanding lead in to the locker room at halftime and were able to maintain it throughout the second half when they traded baskets with the Lady Wildcats. The Lady Phantoms held on for the win 57-45.
Miles and Longhoma were back in form, scoring 12 points apiece and combining for eight rebounds, eight assists and 11 steals. Kara Austin crashed the boards for a game-high 20 rebounds and offered up 11 points, while Scheller and Keebahe added 19 more, as well as a combined 12 points. Maria Dugi, Natalie Ramos, Anlylian Moquino, Sherice Keevama and Makiah Kennedy also contributed points in the win.
The Lady Phantoms will face off against the Holbrook Roadrunners Jan. 18 at home.