Gary Manuel reaches coaching milestone for his communityby Andy Morales on Jan. 29, 2013, under Sports
If you follow Southern Arizona boys basketball then you have heard of Ironwood Ridge head coach Brian Peabody and Buena coach Dave Glasgow. Both of those coaches are in the top eight in the state of Arizona in wins among active coaches and are the top two from Southern Arizona.
In fact, according to the Arizona Basketball Coaches Association, Glasgow has recently surpassed the 400-win milestone. Peabody and Glasgow both coach at “Big Schools” now, although both had success at what is typically referred to as “Small Schools” with Peabody winning a state championship at Green Fields and Glasgow winning three at Coolidge. (Peabody also has a championship at Ironwood Ridge).
But who comes in at third for Southern Arizona?
Late Monday night, in a small town in the Tohono O’odham Nation, Gary Manuel joined the 300-win club by leading his Baboquivari Warriors over Immaculate Heart 70-47.
“It has been a long time coming,” Manuel said after he received the traditional dumping of a water cooler over his head in celebration. “There have been a lot of ups and downs but mostly ups along the way. I’m just grateful that I was able to come home and share this with my people. The record belongs to all of us. It was a collective effort.”
Manuel has been the head coach at Baboquivari (pronounced babo-key-var-ee) for 23 years and, as you can tell, is a very soft-spoken coach and elder who is quick to praise those around him including the fans in the stands who he knows by name, all his assistant coaches and players past and present.
He is also able to keep a secret.
Manuel’s current players had no idea that their head coach was about to win his 300th game and they did not know until after all the post-game picture sessions had taken place. He gathered them on the bench and told them the news of the milestone but quickly turned it into their milestone.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he told them. “All these good people around here made it possible and many players got us to this point and then you got us there. Always remember,” he added.
When asked how much longer he will coach, he told me, “Forever, tell them I’m only halfway there.”
Immaculate Heart did their best to delay Baboquivari’s celebration, especially point guard Tristan Downey who poured in 10 points in the first quarter and nine in the second to lead the Knights to a 29-28 lead at the half.
The only player keeping Immaculate Heart from running away with the game at that point was senior Norman Wolfchief. Wolfchief had 15 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots at the break.
Wolfchief continued to collect rebounds and points in the third quarter and teammate Marcus Lopez hit a 3-pointer with 2:18 left in the third to give Baboquivari a 44-37 lead and momentum heading down the stretch.
Downey finished with 27 points to lead Immaculate Heart and John Baron had 7 but Wolfchief led all scorers with 29 and he added 19 rebounds to make sure Manuel got his 300th victory at home.
Also coming up big for the Warriors were Manalito Jose with 14 (10 in the fourth quarter), Lopez with 10 and Jamal Toro with 7.
The first game of the night featured the girls of Immaculate Heart and Baboquivari. Baboquivari is out of the playoff picture and they almost knocked Immaculate Heart out of the running also with a 52-50 double-overtime loss.
Baboquivari led 8-6 after the first period and 18-17 at the half with Nina Thomas leading Baboquivari with 8 points and Faith Aroz leading Immaculate Heart with 10.
Baboquivari built a 29-23 lead with 3:10 left in third period but Immaculate Heart went on a 12-0 run to go up 35-29 with 6:54 left in the game. Baboquivari came right back and Pachynne Ignacio tied the game up 37-37 with 32 seconds left in regulation.
Nadia Jose came up with the first if several big steals with 12 seconds left but Baboquivari missed on a last-second attempt and the game went to overtime.
Immaculate Heart went up 42-39 with 1:28 left in overtime but Summer Hendricks banked in a 3-pointer to tie it up again with 1:17 left. Jose made another steal and Thomas scored again to put Baboquivari up 44-42 with 45 seconds left.
Jose stole the ball again but Immaculate Heart got the ball back and Aroz tied the game up 44-44 with 17 seconds left.
Theresa Haynes scored three points to open up the second overtime but Jose would come up with another steal and would score to give Baboquivari a 48-47 lead with 1:55 left. Haynes scored again and then Thomas fouled out.
Thomas had 16 points but had to leave the game. Aroz converted on both free throws to give Immaculate Heart a 51-48 lead with 57 seconds left but Chasity Browning made two free throws at the other end to cut it down to 51-50 with 51 seconds left.
Both teams had a shot to win it after that but Haynes was fouled with 4 seconds left and ended it with a free throw for the 52-50 win.
Besides the 16 points from Thomas, Baboquivari was led by 13 from Jose and 6 from both Browning and Selena Antonio. Aroz had 18 for Immaculate Heart, Haynes added 12, Katie Martinka had 10 and Maggie Haynes and Justine Mona had 6 each.
The Immaculate girls are on the edge for a sectional berth in Division IV with two games remaining on their schedule