The Cochise College men’s and women’s basketball teams each chalked up their third straight win, this past Saturday, in Phoenix.
The Lady Apaches thumped South Mountain Community College 81-39, while the men defeated South Mountain 78-74.
In the Lady Apaches game, Cochise led, 19-13, at the end of the first quarter and, 44-18, at the half. The Lady Apaches outscored their opponents, 21-9, in the third quarter taking a commanding, 65-27, lead into the fourth.
Cochise had five players score in double figures this game. Vinisha Sherrod led the Lady Apaches with 17 points, Raena Suggs followed with 13, Sharmayne Finley came off the bench and had 12, and Kayla Harris and Christina Thames each contributed 10. Tahmes also pulled down 10 rebounds.
"We did a good job being consistent throughout the game with our energy and effort," Coach Laura Hughes said. "This has been a focus of ours since returning from winter break, and the team is responding."
In the men’s game that followed, South Mountain started the game strong, making six of its first seven shots, taking an early 15-9 lead.
Sophomore Naje Smith would counter by scoring 12 of his game-high 29 points, over the next six minutes, to help Cochise erase the early deficit and lead, 41-37, at the break.
Ball movement and strong defense would allow Cochise to take a 10-point lead, midway through the second half, but the Cougars would make one last push, eventually knotting the game up with three minutes to go.
Smith would make crucial baskets down the stretch to give Cochise the lead, while sophomore Damon Wall would sink two key free-throws to provide Cochise with a 77-74 lead, with 19 seconds to go.
Freshman QuayShawn Gentry would make, what his coaches describe as the play of the game, forcing a turnover in the final seconds to preserve the Cochise win.
"Early on, it didn't seem like we were trying very hard defensively," Cochise Head Coach Jerry Carrillo said. "South made shots, but it didn't seem like we were trying very hard to contest those shots. Eventually, we started having energy and enthusiasm on the defensive end, which helped us get the lead, then we had guys make plays down the stretch to get the win."
The Apaches dominated SMCC from the free-throw line, going 17-23 compared to SMCC, going 5-7.
While Smith led the Apaches in scoring with 29 points, Milan Szabo followed with 14, and Wall contributed 12.
On Wednesday, Jan. 8, the Apaches thumped Chandler-Gilbert Community College, 94-74, in Cochise Stronghold.
Cochise started the game fast, taking an 18-7 lead, five minutes into the game. Repeated dunks by Smith and Szabo and multiple three's by freshman Arion Lewis attributed to the early barrage of points that powered the Apaches to a 54-36 halftime lead.
The Coyotes would hang tough in the second half with an onslaught of three's themselves, eventually cutting the lead to six, 66-60. At that point, Cochise would go on a 15-2, run over the next four minutes, to essentially put the game away.
Smith continued his impressive scoring streak by pumping in 35 points to go along with seven rebounds. Wall contributed 19 points and six assists, while Lewis had 16 points and five assists.
"Our staff thought we had great energy and focus for the majority of the game," Cochise College Jerry Carrillo said after the win. "The guys hung together when CGCC pulled within six and were able to get a win. We need to continue being energetic and playing for each other."
The Lady Apaches, meanwhile, posted a 73-53 win over Chandler-Gilbert earlier that evening.
The Lady Apaches got off to a slow start and trailed the Coyotes 16-11 after the first quarter. Scoring picked up for the Lady Apaches in the second as they outscored their opponents, 26-13, taking a 37-29 lead at the half.
Cochise would continue its scoring dominance in the second half, outscoring the Coyotes, 36-24.
Harris put up a double-double in the contest scoring 14 points and snatching down 11 rebounds.
"We continue to work on our defensive intensity and consistency,” Coach Laura Hughes said after the game. “We are taking it a game at a time, and our focus is a daily improvement."
After sitting in seventh place in the conference at Christmas break, the Lady Apaches, 14-3 overall, 6-3 in conference, have fought their way back up to third place in the conference behind Central and Mesa, while the Apaches, 12-5 overall, 6-3 in conference, currently sit in fourth behind Easter, Scottsdale and Arizona Western.
Both Cochise teams host Glendale this Wednesday night before going on the road Saturday for a game at Phoenix College.
The Lady Apaches will play at 5:30 p.m.; the men at 7:30 p.m. There is no admission charge to the games.