Neither Desert Vista or Dobson have been behind very often this season. If they have, a double-digit deficit was rare.
But in the battle of arguably the top two Division I girls basketball teams in the state Saturday morning, Desert Vista turned up the heat on Dobson and wouldn't relent.
Desert Vista bolted to a 15-3 lead late in the first period and built it consistently to double digits in the second half in defeating Dobson, 53-42, to win the championship of the White Division at the Nike Tournament of Champions at Hamilton High.
Desert Vista ran its record to 12-0 while dealing Dobson its first defeat. The Lady Mustangs are 13-1. Eight points in the first period from point guard Emily Wolph and six from post Kristine Anigwe got Desert Vista rolling.
Wolph made a couple layups — one off a steal and the other off a nice assist from Sabrina Haines. Wolph also made a 3 in the opening period with a defender in her face. Anigwe got two easy baskets in the low post for four of her six poiints in the period. For the game those kind of points were the difference — easy shots in the paint and points off turnovers. Dobson got a couple buckets that way in the first half, but perhaps one in the second half when Desert Vista pulled away midway through the third period.
“It was a great game, two teams going after it punch for punch,” Desert Vista coach Jontar Coleman said. “I know we can play with anybody. We got a 12-point lead in the first quarter, and were able to sustain it.”
Wolph and Jahne Martin did most of the ball-handling in front court for Desert Vista and as Dobson coach Tyler Dumas said, “We had a tough time speeding them up like we can with most other teams.”.
Wolph scored 14 of her game-high 16 points in the first half. Anigwe finished with 11 points and clogged the middle keeping Dobson from getting better shots inside thant they'd been used to.
“We held them to around 50 points and I'll take that,” Dumas said. “But we didn't do well offensively. Credit their athletes and Anigwe. We had trouble with her. They got more easy baskets than we did, more than we could allow….
“They're a very good team. They have the most talent of any team in the state.”
Dobson got a scare with just under three minutes left in the game when junior guard Dyesha Stahley went down hard and hit her head on the floor. Paramedics were called as she was woozy and carried off the court. She was taken to Mercy Gilbert Medical Center for obvservation.
Dobson made two brief runs at Desert Vista. The Lady Mustangs pulled within 24-20 with 2:40 left in the first half, but a minute late the lead was back to 30-20. Early in the third period Dobson trailed 30-24, but a 9-0 run keyed by Lindsay Payton with a layup in transition and a put back and wide open three delivered by Martin pushed the lead to 15 with just under four minutes left in the period. Dobson never got closer than 10 the rest of the way.
“They're the best team we've played so far,” Coleman said. “They play like we do. Run a good trap, play hard defense. We were able to figure it out, and have our ball handlers get it to the right person.”
Tori Lloyd led Dobson with 15 points and Miyah Leith added 11. Both struggled shooting and in getting good looks or opportunities. Lloyd was 4-for-12 from the field and Leith 3-for-12. Monay Mariscal, coming back a little stronger each game after missing time with a writst injury, added seven points and did a decent job in the post.