Flowing Wells, No. 1, achieves 5A state championship behind chemistry and work ethic

Michael Perkins brought Flowing Wells back in the 5A state title game (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Flowing Wells will have a chance to avenge last year’s loss to Millennium in the 5A state championship game when the schools meet for the title on Tuesday in Phoenix.

Judging by the open celebration on the pitch after Wednesday’s semi-final win over Gilbert, it doesn’t matter who Lady Caballeros is up against.

Michael Perkins’ The team is locked up and loose (a dangerous combination) ahead of the showdown with Millenium at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Leamsi Acunaa former gymnast who is arguably the best point guard in the state (any classification), backflips through a line of her teammates after the 55-48 victory over Gilbert at the gymnasium in Flowing Wells.

During the post-game huddle, Perkins and his players spent a lot of time discussing what he would bring to practice Friday morning. Bagels and orange juice were part of the discussion.

“Off the pitch too we build a lot of chemistry, so on the pitch it’s even more fun,” said the junior winger. Marine Mallonwho had 12 points against Gilbert, including two free throws with 24.5 seconds left that gave Flowing Wells a two-possession lead.

“When we have to be serious, we are serious. When you want to have fun, you have as much fun as you want.

The heart of this fun – and ferocity – is Mallon, Acuña and the post player Sydney Lomeli-Capen. Their fiery and efficient play impacts their teammates to play the same.

There are no better “Big Three” in terms of value.

“The chemistry we’ve built with each other and how we work through our issues is just amazing,” Acuña said. “Just knowing that they’re going to be there for me, the family, it really helps us. I trust my team. I know we can get this ring.

Lomeli-Capen was out of control as she took control of the game on the blocks in the third quarter, scoring eight straight points off Acuña Flows in a 10-2 run that saw Flowing Wells part ways with Gilbert after that the teams were tied at 29 at halftime. .

“I worked really hard with my main guard Leamsi. I worked really hard with her trying to knock those screens down and roll,” said Lomeli-Capen, who finished with a game-high 21 points. We worked hard with our other shooting guard Navine to get this back and forth really easy and she’s also a post player so she can do as well.

“I think working together on defense and talking and doing whatever we need to do helped us win this game.”

The chemistry that Acuña, Mallon and Lomeli-Capen bring to this team is as impactful as their skills, and it puts Perkins on the brink of another championship.

The 17-year-old coach, who recently won his 300th game and is 301-190, knows all about building and training a dominant team that can withstand tough setbacks and ultimately win it all.

His 2007-08 state title team finished 33-1 and also featured a Big Three – Abye Maracigan, Azya peoples and Nicole Leon.

Flowing Wells, the No. 1 seed from the 2008 State Tournament, is the No. 1 seed now heading into the title match against No. 3 Millennium (20-9).

Maracigan and that group knocked on the door with a state title appearance in 2006 and advancing to the 2007 semifinals before winning the title in 2008 (56-24 win over Marana).

Flowing Wells, with an outstanding leader Linda Arguellezlost in last year’s championship to Millennium 62-39.

The Lady Caballeros have only lost once since, to Gilbert Perry in a holiday tournament in late November.

A large and boisterous crowd was in attendance for Flowing Wells’ victory over Gilbert (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

“It’s chemistry – it’s the kids playing together, they grew up together,” Perkins said. “All week it’s been, ‘Hey coach, can we stay after (training) for a few more minutes.’ They are working on this dribble pass (between Acuña and Lomeli-Capen).

“They took their time and it shows.”

Flowing Wells and Gilbert were tied a minute into the third quarter when the game was tied at 31 after a post move by Lomeli-Capen.

The basket started a 10-2 run for Lady Cabelleros – with eight of Lomeli-Capen’s runs around the basket – giving them a 39-33 lead with 2:33 left in the third quarter.

An 11-0 run capped by a cross dribble and a jump by Acuña put Flowing Wells ahead 50-35 with 4:50 remaining.

Acuña went a few times to a fast, stifling cross dribble that left her defender stumbling, and she either made the shot afterwards or assisted an opponent for a field goal.

When asked how long she had worked on the crossover dribble, Acuña replied, “All summer. It’s hard work and it’s hours and hours and hours in the gym, but it’s worth it. … Looking at all those basketball reels you see on Instagram really helps. I like to watch these videos before entering the game to have this memory in mind. I get into the game and I do it. That’s definitely all the work I did over the summer.

Gilbert made a 13-1 run that cut the lead to 51-48 with 37 seconds left by Nicole Evenson 3 points.

Flowing Wells had four turnovers and two missed shots during the streak and Gilbert took advantage of the situation by making 6 of 9 shots from the field.

Mallon was fouled with 24.5 seconds left with a chance to make it a two possession game with two free throws. She missed both attempts on a previous trip to the free throw line in the fourth quarter.

Mallon swept both attempts to give Flowing Wells a 53-48 lead.

Acuña was fouled after grabbing a rebound and she made two free throws to seal the win.

“This team in particular, I like that we’re balanced,” Perkins said. “One night (Acuña) takes control of the game from start to finish. Other nights it’s tossing the ball to Syd. Other nights it’s Navine doing everything. is Kayla (Bailey) coming off the bench.

“It’s nice that a kid can show up any night and we trust him to do his job and get the best shot for our team and put us in a winning position. They’ve been doing that all season.

Leamsi Acuña has established herself as one of the best point guards in the state (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)


Javier Morales, publisher, writer and editor of ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com, is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star Beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News, and Baseball America, among many other publications. He is also the author of the book “The Highest Life Form”, which is available on Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is currently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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