CASA GRANDE — Fifteen games into the season, the Casa Grande Union girls basketball team had something happen to them on Thursday night that hasn’t happened all season.

Have the whole team available.

Throughout the season, the Cougars have been plagued by injuries and other issues according to coach Donald Thompson. But against rival Vista Grande, everything finally came together for a 54-42 win to open region play.

“Hopefully we can build some confidence and we can keep everyone and build upon this going into region,” Thompson said.

Behind junior Kalyssa Fox and sophomore Aliyah Robbins, CG Union closed out the first quarter on a 8-0 run to take a 17-11 lead and carried the momentum into the second quarter by outscoring Vista 17-12 to take a 34-23 halftime lead.

“That’s a tough one,” Vista Grande coach Ryan Barrett said. “Every time we battle Casa Grande it’s a close game. Last year it was by two and seven (points). This year it was more than we would like. We fought the whole game. The fouls put us in foul trouble with two of my strongest players and that hurt.”

The Spartans would chip away in the third quarter by closing the out the quarter on a 8-7 run that cut the lead to 44-36 and carried the run into the fourth — cutting the lead to 44-41 — the closest margin since the teams were tied at 9-9 midway through the first quarter.

“They were motivated and they made some tough shots,” Thompson said. “It wasn’t a let down on our part, they were motivated and made shots and got close.”

Fox led the Cougars (3-12, 1-0 in the 4A Kino region) with 18 points while Robbins added 15 points.

Carlee Meiner led the Spartans (3-17, 0-2) with 19 points and Jayla Scott chipped in 14 points.

The Spartans will get a chance to avenge the loss on Jan. 28 when the two teams meet up again at Casa Grande Union High School.

“We get them again. We’re excited,” Barrett said. “I would say we have to work on our defense. We played good offense. We kept our attitudes better. The last couple of days we have been getting on each other and falling apart. They stayed together tonight. That’s what I need to build a program. We are losing seniors and have to send a good message to the freshmen.”

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