WILLIAMS, Ariz. - The Williams High School (WHS) boys' and girls' basketball teams wrapped up their seasons against the Northland Preparatory Academy Spartans Jan. 31 at home. It was also senior night.
The Williams Vikings were undermanned and it showed. They lost to the Spartans (11-11) 68-37. The Vikings finished the season with a 7-11 overall record, which unfortunately did not qualify them for the sectional tournament.
Prior to the Northland Prep game, the Vikings lost a close one at home to the Chino Valley Cougars (6-14) 47-41 on Jan. 30.
The Williams Lady Vikings were able to fend off the Northland Prep Lady Spartans (1-15) 35-29 for their final game of the season and come away victorious in front of their home crowd. Unfortunately the win was not enough to propel the Lady Vikings into the postseason, they too did not qualify for the sectional tournament.
Prior to the Northland Prep game, the Lady Vikings lost a heartbreaker at home to the Chino Valley Lady Cougars 30-25 on Jan. 30. The Lady Vikings finished the regular season with a 9-17 record overall.
"The boys struggled with some eligibility issues at the end of the season there, but the boys that played really stepped up and played pretty hard," said WHS Athletic Director and girls' varsity head basketball coach Phillip Echeverria.
The Vikings did not finish the season how they wanted to; losing their final four games and struggling to even compete in two of them.
Against Northland Prep, Williams found itself down in a hole rather quickly, losing 21-8 at the end of the first quarter. And even after outplaying the Spartans in the second quarter, where the Vikings outscored the Spartans 12-9, the second half surge by Northland Prep proved too much to handle.
The Lady Vikings did not finish as strong as they would have hoped either, but they did manage to win three of their final five games. And they were fiercely competitive in all five.
Against Chino Valley, the Williams Lady Vikings started out slow and struggled early in the game, which unfortunately has been their M.O. all season.
The Lady Vikings were down 13-4 to the Lady Cougars at halftime.
"We came out in the second half and had much better movement on offense and scored a few more baskets, we cut it to three at a couple points," Echeverria said. "But then Chino Valley got a little bit hot and hit three three-pointers in the third quarter to stretch out the lead again. But then in the fourth we made a run at them, we outscored them 11-3."
Echeverria said his team has some opportunities, but they were just unable to cash in on them. He said his girls were playing a lot better at the end of the game.
"The girls never give up, no matter what the score is the girls play as hard as they can play," said Echeverria.
Missing close field goal attempts again proved costly for the Lady Vikes. Echeverria estimates they missed at least five layups and three or four shots inside the paint in the first half. He said they also failed to make Chino Valley pay for pressing them. Several times the Lady Vikings were able to break the press but then wouldn't capitalize on it because of missed layups or easy shot attempts.
The Lady Vikings recovered well though after the Chino Valley loss to win their final game of the season against Northland Prep. A hard-fought game Echeverria describes as a battle he's proud of his team winning.