While the Mountain Pointe High School boys basketball team and first-year head coach Duane Eason are taking the 6A conference by storm this season, the Pride girls team and head coach Justin Hager are making a name for themselves as well halfway through their campaign.
Since falling to the No. 2-ranked 6A defending state champions Valley Vista Monsoon, the Pride have won 10 of their past 11 power point games.
They also had a seven-game win streak during that span, defeating Perry High 62-57. Their only loss in their past 10 power point games came at the hand of the Highland Hawks in a hard-fought battle that ended with a 40-37 final score on Jan. 5.
Last season, the Pride girls finished with an overall record of 23-11 and were paced by leading scorer Bailey Osmer and Jenise Strover, who both averaged over 14 points a game.
Eve Kulovitz and Isela Enriquez, both juniors last year, averaged six and five points, respectively, per game last season but have stepped into the leading roles this season for a team that is balanced throughout.
Kulovitz, a 6-foot-2 senior forward for the Pride, has led the Pride, averaging almost 13 points a game while averaging nearly seven rebounds a game as well.
She has given the Pride a presence on the inside to go along with freshman forward A’laysha Clark, the team’s second leading scorer (9.7 points per game) and its leading rebounder (7.1).
The two forwards, along with senior Kayci Johnson – who is averaging 9.5 points per game to go with four rebounds – have allowed the Pride to average 24.6 rebounds per game as a team. It has been one of their strengths this season, but Hager and the Pride also have gotten quality play from their guards.
Enriquez has led the Pride on the perimeter, running the offense and scoring when she has needed too. The 5-foot-4 senior has helped the Pride in a variety of ways, averaging just over 9 points per game – to go with two assists, two rebounds and three steals per game.
That defensive prowess has just been one contribution to the Pride’s over-all success this season.
Mountain Pointe has five women averaging over one steal a game. As a whole, the team has only allowed eight teams to score over 40 points. Of those eight games, six resulted in a loss, with three against teams in the top five of 6A and two against out-of-state competition at the Las Vegas Holiday classic.
With five games remaining on their regular season schedule, the Pride have beat three of the five teams coming up. But the team has tough matchups with No. 4 Highland and No. 1 Gilbert to end the regular season on Feb. 6.
The end of the season could put the Pride in a great position for a postseason run. As the No. 10-seed last year, the Pride upset No. 7-seed Xavier Prep in the first round and stunned No. 2-seed Hamilton in the quarterfinals before falling to eventual state champion Valley Vista by five points in the semifinals.
While 16 teams will make the state tournament, only the top eight are assured a spot as teams ranked 9 through 24 will participate in a play-in tournament to earn their spot.
If the Pride find themselves in that position, they’ll be no stranger to the circumstances after they earned their way in last season, defeating Cesar Chavez by 21 points.
As the end of the regular season approaches, both basketball teams at Mountain Pointe are playing solid basketball and are hoping for a return to the state championship tournament.