Beginning the regular season against a region opponent isn’t preferable for a high school basketball team. Neither is playing the contest on the road against a defending 4A state tournament semifinalist.
Bradshaw Mountain’s girls’ basketball team learned the pitfalls of both on Monday night, falling at Flagstaff, 60-28, in their 2017-18 Grand Canyon region and campaign opener.
In the 2016-17 season, the Eagles swept the Bears in their season series, 55-40 and 67-29.
“This is a very good Flagstaff team,” Bears coach Rick Haltom said. “I’m very encouraged with this [our] team despite the score. We will get better.”
Bradshaw Mountain post Rylee Bundrick registered a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Haltom said she “played very well.” Peyton Bradshaw added seven points for the visitors.
Last season, Flagstaff finished as the Grand Canyon runner-up to crosstown rival Coconino, earning the No. 4 seed into the 4A state tournament. The Eagles beat Saguaro in the first round and Pueblo Magnet in the quarterfinals before losing to top-seeded and eventual state runner-up Cactus Shadows.
Meanwhile, Bradshaw Mountain bowed out in the first round of state at Shadow Mountain in Phoenix with an experienced starting lineup. This season, the Bears will need time to find their way, navigating through a difficult schedule with a green group. Monday’s loss should serve as a learning experience.
“The kids are motivated,” Haltom added. “The girls are excited to practice tomorrow [Tuesday] to work on the things that we need to work on.”
The Bears (0-1, 0-1 Grand Canyon) will regroup over Thanksgiving and then head to Tempe to face Marcos de Niza, which is currently playing at the Mountain Pointe Thanksgiving Holiday Classic against 6A conference schools Mountain Pointe, Skyline and Corona del Sol Monday through Wednesday in Phoenix.
Doug Cook is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.