PRESCOTT VALLEY - You can't keep them down for long.
They've got too much experience, too much talent, and too much sheer determination to succeed.
Last week, the Bradshaw Mountain High girls' basketball team lost back-to-back games, including its section opener to Kingman at home, for the first time since 2011.
But after the Division 2 No. 15-ranked Lady Bears' huge 60-41 win over D-2 No. 8 Flagstaff Coconino Friday night at home, their doubters would be wise not to write them off just yet.
With its D-2, Section 1 victory, Bradshaw improved to 2-1 in the league, tying the Lady Panthers and Prescott in the standings. No. 13 Flagstaff High sits atop the loaded section at 2-0.
Bradshaw Mountain (21-3 overall record, 11-3 in power-point games) understood that it had to beat Coconino (17-7, 10-4) to stay in the title hunt. Each of its last three section contests against Flagstaff, Prescott and Mohave will be on the road over the next two weeks.
"It was our focus this week to get after somebody and not kind of sit back and see what they do," BMHS coach Deana Hendrix said. "This was a great game to have as our building block for this road trip. This is going to help us."
Bradshaw forward Kylie Morris said that she and her teammates had a short talk before the game in the school's auxiliary gym to discuss the stakes and motivate each other.
"We knew that Coconino had beaten both Prescott and Kingman," Morris said. "But if we beat them and go and beat Prescott next (Thursday), that puts us in that No. 1 seed (for the section tournament and a bye in the semifinals)."
On Friday, Bradshaw led the Lady Panthers nearly throughout, but didn't pull away until the third quarter.
Up 29-21 at halftime, the Lady Bears outscored the visitors 17-7 in the third on the strength of a series of forced turnovers that led to transition baskets the other way.
Lady Bears senior guard Kirsten Smith and Morris combined to limit Lady Panthers star Marissa Copley to five points in the second half after she had scored 11 in the first to finish with a team-high 16.
"We wanted to pick up our defense, especially on (Copley)," Hendrix said. "She was a focus of what we talked about at halftime. We couldn't let them get back into the game."
In front 46-28 at the end of three, it was all Bradshaw from there, as it stymied Coconino's potent perimeter shooting offense with a suffocating full-court press and an aggressive man-to-man defense in the half court set.
"From the beginning (against Coconino), we knew we had to come out intense because they came in the gym like they owned it, and we had to show them this is our house," Smith said. "We're going to win at home. We're not going to let what happen last week happen again."
BMHS received all the production it could've asked from its "Big Two" of the do-everything Morris and Smith, two seniors who generated most of their team's points off Coco's turnovers.
Morris scored a game-high 21 points, hauled in eight rebounds, dished four assists and went a perfect 5-for-5 from the free-throw line. Smith netted 17 points, had four boards and two assists, and was 3-for-3 from the charity stripe.
Ashlie Dowdy, who committed three fouls in the first half, rallied back from a scoreless initial 16 minutes to add nine points thanks largely to two 3-pointers. She also tallied four boards and three assists. Katie Dickinson came off the bench to score four points and grab seven rebounds.
Bradshaw has now won two straight in section play, while snapping Coconino's three-game winning streak.
Coco co-coach Jennifer Parker credited Bradshaw Mountain for its tenacious defense but said that her team could've done better.
The Lady Panthers were playing their third game in four days and seemed tired.
"I felt like we struggled offensively the whole game," Parker said. "We never really got into any kind of offensive rhythm, which I guess is their plan. They do play very good in-your-face, full-court pressure defense, which we knew coming in."
The Lady Bears continue on in section when they travel to Flagstaff next Tuesday. Tip-off is at 5:30 p.m.