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Monsters Defeat Coyotes

It’s been a tough start — in a tough conference — for the Gila Monsters men’s basketball squad this year. But a win makes things a little better. EAC defeated Gilbert/Chandler, 89-83, Wednesday. The win moves the Monsters to 3-3 and fifth place in conference, 7-5 overall.

“We did a lot better job of man to man,” coach Maurice Leitzke said. “We’ve had to change the way we play and adapt to the new hand-checking rules.” D’Juan Miller for EAC started off his game strong, with 7 of the Monsters’ first 21 points. And Taylor Stafford shot 50 percent from the field. “Our practices have been intense,” Stafford said. “We’ve been a lot of boxout drills.”

The Monsters started off the second half with five straight 3-pointers — two from Stafford and Miller and one from Tyler Chaisson — to keep the Coyotes at bay, 57-49. “We kept battling,” Leitzke said. “They went to zone, and we shot them out of zone in the second half.”

Chandler-Gilbert narrowed the gap to 69-60, thanks to two buckets from Edgar Sarmiento. Sarmiento later hit two from the line and one from the field to close the gap, 79-76, at the 2:00 mark. But Stafford took control of the game from there with a bucket and two successful trips to the foul line to ice the victory. Stafford finished with a game-high 30 points, Miller had 21 points, Tre Vance scored 13, and Chaisson finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.

Sarmiento had 26 points and four rebounds, Frankie Teran had 17 points, and DJ Hurd had 15 points for Gilbert.

EAC takes on fourth-place Central on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.

by Jay David Murphy sportsguy@eacourier.com

Eastern Arizona Courier