Originally Published: December 4, 2018 11:15 p.m.
PRESCOTT — The Prescott Badgers took to their home floor Tuesday night looking to start region play off on the right foot. However, Flagstaff was in firm control for virtually all four quarters en route to a 71-45 victory.
As the game started, in front of a good size Badgers crowd and student section, it seemed like the Eagles were team with the energy and intensity.
The Badgers and Eagles both came out scoring early, but transition three-point shooting and its ability to impose their press on made baskets, led the Eagles to a 10-point advantage after the first quarter and they never looked back.
The Eagles had a great night shooting the ball as a team, finding open shooters with open shots, almost all night and were able to knock them down. The Eagles hit 11 three-pointers in the game, with Troy Yazzie leading the way with a game high 26 points.
In this Eagles performance, it seemed to have that classic defense turns into offense feel and Flagstaff coach Nick Walton felt like his team was successful because they worked the hardest tonight.
“We were stressing really hard about (playing all) four quarters, defensive intensity and working hard; that’s what we wanted to do tonight,” Walton said. “We wanted to make sure we came in and our guys outworked everybody on the floor and our guys did that tonight.”
Even though the Eagles did well pushing the ball, running solid half-court offense, it was the effort areas that got them the victory, such as, their tight defense and ability to rebound.
“Defensive intensity was the number one (key for us tonight). We knew we could have success if we kept good solid pressure and we knew we had to take care of the rebounds tonight. I’m really proud of our guys, they did a great job on the boards.”
For the Badgers, this loss drops them to 3-4 on the season and 0-1 in region play. They had seemed to really start playing better basketball over the last weekend going 3-1 in the Sedona Red Rock tournament, but defense still appears to be a major issue.
In tonight’s game against the Eagles, the Badgers often times lost their man, leading to points and frustration for coach Travis Stedman. For Stedman, he said his defense wasn’t great tonight, but it’s what he sees as steps backwards in this area that is also worrying.
“Defensively we just weren’t good tonight,” Stedman said. “Our rotations were bad, our closeouts were bad and we were giving the wrong kids open jump shots.”
“We really need to figure it out (on defense),” Stedman said. “It’s funny because we were pretty decent defensively to start the season, even though the scores didn’t show that. But, it seems like we’ve taken a different direction and we need to get back in the lab and work on the stuff that’s going to make us better.”
The Badgers will get one more game at home before heading on the road, as they host the Tempe Buffaloes on Friday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m.
Chris Whitcomb is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @AZChris32. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2031.