The SCA Varsity Girls' Basketball Team traveled north to Sedona for a State Quarterfinal against the Red Rock High School Scorpions, a rematch of the Eagles’ exit from the prior year’s state tournament.
Coach Alan Mitchell selected a starting lineup comprised of senior Kathryn Dick (#35) with juniors Brooke Hancock, (#4), Baylee Tobin (#21), Savannah Cardona (#22) and Lily Richardson (#44) for this win-or-go-home game to determine who would advance to the Semifinal of the Arizona Tournament.
The game got off to a rough start with a botched tip, but both teams demonstrated strengths on defense. The Scorpions sought to double the ball handler and reach in to tie up or strip the ball, while SCA looked to funnel the Red Rock players into the waiting arms of Kathryn Dick and Baylee Tobin. With such defensive tactics, and with the Eagles looking tentative on offense, more than half the first quarter elapsed before the scoreboard operators were called into action. SCA missed numerous high-percentage looks inside and from the three-point line, and both teams traded steals and turnovers in addition to the officials calling numerous held balls, but finally Savannah Cardona opened the scoring from the free throw line, and then put back Lily Richardson’s steal-and-break attempt. Unfortunately the Scorpions then increased their pressure inside, using their superior height and reach to score on transition and on screen action, as the Eagles went down 4-10 in the first quarter.
The second quarter was even less productive for SCA from the field, as they were blanked throughout, continuing to look uncertain and tense in offensive sets. While the Eagles moved the ball better and took shots both inside, in the short corner, and from three, the attempts lipped out or came back off the rim to be swept up by the big, active Scorpion defenders and immediately pushed back at the Eagles in transition. On defense the SCA shot-blockers Kathryn Dick and Baylee Tobin had productive nights, and Lily Richardson and sophomore Ana Faustinos (#32) showed good hands to deflect passes and collect steals, but the Red Rock screen game and pocket passing took advantage of their superior height to open up a 4-20 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter the woeful SCA shooting continued, and only Brooke Hancock’s put-back of a tipped ball moved the needle for the Eagles. Junior Allyson Lund (#11) helped even out the power disadvantage inside with offensive rebounding, Kathryn Dick and Baylee Tobin combined for more shot-blocking, and the SCA half-court trap produced steals for Lily Richardson, Brooke Hancock and Savannah Cardona, but without settled shooting, the Eagles were down 8-28 after three.
Baylee Tobin’s hard work inside finally resulted in a fourth-quarter score, and Ana Faustinos’ tight handles were rewarded with a drive inside for two. Freshman Julia Claus (#10) jumped the passing lane for a steal in the trapping half-court defense, freshman Izzy Thiessen (#30) plunged into the interior melee to box out anyone wearing home whites, and freshman Bree Tobin (#3) took her turn firing up shots, but the Eagles saw their opportunity to advance to the Arizone State Final Four slip through their fingers with a 40-12 defeat to finish the season with a wining overall record of 11-6.
Despite the loss, the players and fans all reflected that the ability to play even an abbreviated season was a welcome outcome, and the winning record that outstripped the expectations of the Arizona Republic prognosticators was even better. Congratulations to the players, coaches, and fans for a terrific year!
See the Metro Region Coach and Players of the Year at AZPreps here: https://www.azpreps365.com/recognitions/basketball-girls/2a/r6