Ed Petruska-Pinal Central
SIGNAL PEAK — Central Arizona College didn't come close to thrashing a lesser opponent in a tuneup game for the Division I Region 1 tournament.
Scottsdale put up quite a fight before the Vaqueras pulled away in the fourth quarter to notch an 83-72 victory on Saturday night at the George Young Activity Center.
"It was a choppy and ugly win, but I'll take it," CAC coach Denise Cardenas said. "It certainly wasn't our best game. But we buckled down defensively and made the shots when we needed them."
Central (20-8, 16-5 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) came in having already clinched the No. 2 seed and a home game on March 5 against Eastern Arizona in the region tourney semifinals. The Vaqueras close the regular season Tuesday at Eastern.
But they couldn't dispose of Scottsdale (10-19, 7-14 ACCAC) until outscoring the Artichokes 30-21 in the fourth quarter. Scottsdale owned a 43-37 lead after going on a 10-0 run to begin the third period and trailed just 53-51 going into the fourth.
"We weren't playing defense like we should and Scottsdale was hitting a lot of open shots," Cardenas said.
The Vaqueras went ahead to stay at 46-45 when Ayanna Clark made a free throw with 3:26 remaining in the third quarter. The lead finally reached 10 points at 73-63 on a basket by Clark with 3:17 left in the fourth.
Clark finished with a game-high 28 points, scoring 14 in the final period. She came in averaging 23.2 points, second-most in the ACCAC. Makayla Pippin had 22 points and Alexis Vaughn scored 11 for Central.
Joyce Jordan led the Artichokes with 21 points, followed by Brooklyn Cruz with 19 and Marrisa Brantley with 10.
The Vaqueras were up 18-14 after one quarter and 37-33 at halftime.
Central attempted 46 free throws, making 29. The Vaqueras were 10 for 18 in the third quarter and 12 for 17 in the fourth.
CAC shot 9 for 15 from the field in the fourth quarter after going 3 for 15 in third.
Cochise will host the region tournament title game on March 8. The Vaqueras defeated Eastern 77-57 on Jan. 19 and split with Cochise, winning 62-58 on Dec. 1 in Douglas and losing 77-57 to the Apaches at home on Jan. 30.