Thunderbird girls capitalize on Cactus foul troubles

Thunderbird girls capitalize on Cactus foul troubles

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Thunderbird girls capitalize on Cactus foul troubles

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When Glendale Cactus senior forward Monique Smith walked off the court with four fouls and 7:35 left in the third quarter, her team’s hopes of pulling off the upset over Phoenix Thunderbird left with her.

In a hard fought 51-39 Division II victory, Thunderbird (22-2) was pressed the whole game. With Smith out it scored 14 points and even when Smith came back in to start the fourth quarter she wasn’t as effective. Thunderbird ripped off 16 in the final period.

“At halftime we knew she had three fouls,” sophomore forward Ann Shikles said. “It wasn’t planned, but (senior forward Jessica Franco) went in and got her to give the fourth foul. That really helped out, because she is a good player.”

Smith ended with 13 points, an achievement only outdone by Shikles, who was on fire from the line in a game that had 33 fouls committed by both teams — 17 by Cactus (15-6). The game’s tenacity took a lot out of Shikles, who looked exhausted after the game.

“Thunderbird and Cactus usually have good, strong and physical games,” Thunderbird coach Barry Ringel said. “That’s been a tradition going back years and years.”

Senior forward Yvette Coles was the unsung hero for Thunderbird in a game where the low post was a crowded area. Coles ended with 12 of her team’s 35 total rebounds despite being lot shorter than who she was guarding.

“(Coles) is a very physical, strong, excellent defender,” Ringel said. “She is kind of an undersized four at 5-6, but yet she gets the job done for us.”

Despite facing the full court press the entire game, Thunderbird was able to turn it over fewer times than Cactus. That responsibility fell on the shoulders of a newcomer, freshman point guard Ozahriah Fisher, whose ball handing and quickness saved the day for her team.

“She is gifted as a basketball player,” Ringel said. “She doesn’t play like a freshman, and she just gutted it out today.”

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