By Greg Perkins
Joseph City is headed to the 1A state tournament as the No. 2 overall seed on the heels of their 1A central region tournament championship captured on Friday.
The Wildcats opened the region tournament on Tuesday with a 53-24 romp over Mayer. The Cats got the upper hand with a 20-3 first period outburst then controlled the game the rest of the way. Ten Wildcat players found the scorebook led by Matt Fields with 12 points. Jacobson Begay added 9; Jay Edwards, 8; Rance Haddox, 6; Seth Hutchens, 4; KJ Kinlicheenie, 4; Kaden Moss, 4; Stephen Woody, 2; Latrelle Kinlicheenie, 2; and Carlos Sanchez helped with 2.
With the win the Wildcats moved on to face Ash Fork at noon on Friday. This game was much closer. Joseph City trailed by four at the end of the first, then still had a one point deficit at the half. That margin remained until the fourth period where the top seed in the region outscored the Spartans by eight points to advance to the title game.
Fields led the way with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Latrelle Kinlicheenie added 13; Hutchens, 6; Sanchez, 6; KJ Kinlicheenie, 2; and Edwards helped with two.
In the regional final the Wildcats met up with Cibecue on Friday evening. The Cibecue Wildcats came out strong with 23 points in the first period to lead by four. They extended that lead to 38-29 at the half. Joseph City still trailed by eight points with only eight minutes to play, but a fantastic comeback in the fourth period saw the Cats pour in 34 points to win the game 79-66.
Latrelle Kinlicheenie led the scoring with 25 points which included six three point buckets. Fields added 22; Begay, 10; Sanchez, 8; KJ Kinlicheenie, 5; Talon Smith, 4; Hutchens, 3; and Edwards added 4.
Joseph City will face 15th seeded El Capitan at 9 a.m. on Friday morning at the Prescott Valley Events Center, in the opening round of the 1A state tournament. With a win they would see either No. 7 Red Mesa or No. 10 Anthem Prep in the second round on Friday at a site and time to be determined.
The Wildcats enter the state tournament with an overall record of 24-7.