The SCA Varsity Girls traveled to Glendale to face the Northwest Christian School Crusaders on a freezing February Monday night. Coach Bob Fredericks sent out seniors Jordan McDonald and Hayden Hancock, junior Kathryn Dick, and sophomores Brooke Hancock and Savannah Cardona in search of another victory over a Class 3A opponent.
The Crusaders opened the game with all their height and size advantages showing, blocking numerous SCA shots and scoring in the paint to take a 10-point early lead and holding the Eagles scoreless for the first seven minutes of the game. SCA ran the ball hard at Northwest despite these setbacks, setting the relentless offensive tone for the game, and as the time ticked down, Hayden Hancock unearthed a rich vein of assists in the high-low and on the break with Brooke Hancock, who scored eight unanswered points to close out the first quarter.
Sensing the slowdown in the Crusaders, Coach Bob Fredericks also ramped up the half-court offenses, and as the change to motion offensive sets was added to the SCA fast break, the frenetic pace began to show. Turnovers and fouls mounted for both teams, but the Eagles could turn to sophomore Lily Richardson and freshman Daphne Garland for quality minutes of high velocity basketball, and SCA was confident in its free throw shooters. Jordan McDonald found her range from the three-point line, and although the points per possession fell, the increased speed of the game was beginning to wear on the big Northwest players, who were out-rebounded and out-hustled by Savannah Cardona. Even the officials were winded, and often found themselves far out of position under wave after wave of SCA fast breaks. A long Kathryn Dick two from the short corner beat the half-time buzzer to tie it all up at 15 apiece.
The second half began with Northwest clearly intent on making their size and speed advantages pay, and the Eagles were forced to fight over screen after bruising screen in defensive coverage. Meanwhile SCA showcased their three-point shooters, Savannah Cardona and Kathryn Dick, to jump out to a six-point lead, and the two teams traded baskets and free throws, sprinted up and down the court, and endured indolent officiating until the quarter ended with SCA up 23-19.
The final period showcased a blast of scoring from both teams and outstanding, physical defense from the Eagles. Kathryn Dick and Savannah Cardona carved out hard drives into the lane to score on offense, and Lily Richardson deflected passes and stopped the ball on defense. The Crusaders then went on a run, hitting threes to take the lead, but in doing so seemed to use all their energy. Their foot speed lagged, and they began to reach and commit fouls, while at the same time Savannah Cardona racked up more and more hustle rebounds.
As SCA reached the bonus, Jordan McDonald then put the ball in the hands of Savannah Cardona and Kathryn Dick, who took fruitful trips to the free throw line. Brooke Hancock knocked down the crucial charity shot to go up, 34-33. As Jordan McDonald orchestrated the offense, Coach Fredericks took advantage of the ragged officiating by changing the defense on almost every trip down the court, confusing the Crusaders and winning back the ball with offensive fouls, good steals and Savannah Cardona's eleventh rebound of the night, and in the last 90 seconds the Eagles snuffed out Northwest's hopes with a crucial defensive stand to take home the victory.
Join us on Tuesday, February 4 at 5:30PM as the Eagles travel south to Eloy in a 2A Metro regional game against the Santa Cruz Valley Union High School Dust Devils.