As is the case with most rivalry games, Friday night's girls basketball matchup between Desert Vista and visiting Mountain Pointe was played at a high level of intensity.
Contested shots, tough fouls and all-around team play led the Thunder to a victory over the Pride, 67-48, extending their current winning streak to eight games.
"[Intensity] is always up when you have a rival game," Desert Vista coach Rachel Proudfoot said. "Young people have a hard time keeping that for a while. It was high and you [could] feel it everywhere so it was good."
Desert Vista (16-3, 9-2 in power rankings) started the game on a 12-0 run and never looked back, despite Mountain Pointe's attempts to chip away at both the lead and momentum throughout the game.
"We've shown spurts of playing really, really good basketball, but we don't put together four quarters of really, really good basketball," Mountain Pointe coach Trevor Neider said. "We dug ourselves a hole and it was too hard to come back tonight."
Emily Wolph, Desert Vista's starting point guard, stood out for her play both offensively and defensively through all four quarters. She finished the game as the leading scorer with 26 points, five of those field goals coming from beyond the 3-point line.
"I feel like I'm a leader, even though I'm not a captain," the sophomore said. "I lead them on defense and throughout everything else."
While Neider admitted one of his team's goals coming into the game was to focus on stopping Wolph, Proudfoot saw the win divided amongst the strengths of her players.
"Defensively we had some big steals from Wolph [and] some big deflection steals from Kylie [Butler]," Proudfoot said. "My senior Jaymee [Brugman] bounced back from a hard first half and Tinisha [Toussaint] is getting the rebounds and playing big down there."
Butler finished with 13 points, while Brugman contributed a team-high 11 rebounds to go along with her 13 points, 10 of which came in her resilient second-half effort.
Mountain Pointe (14-6, 6-3) kept a balanced attack on offense with three players, Myesha McGhee, Kaylah Lupoe and Hannah Sharpe, contributing nine points each. Lupoe brought down nine rebounds, as well.
Both coaches acknowledged that intensity was not to be taken for granted. Desert Vista forced turnovers and missed shots from the beginning, while scrappy play from the Pride kept them in the game until late in the fourth quarter.
The Thunder's momentum simply couldn't be stopped. Any time Mountain Pointe attempted to swing the game in its favor with timely buckets, Desert Vista made the necessary plays to stay ahead on the scoreboard.
Proudfoot spoke to her team at the half about passing the ball around more and having patience, which showed when they returned to the court for the last two quarters.
"We had our ups and downs in the game, but [we] pulled it out in the fourth," Proudfoot said.
The Pride look to bounce back next week against the likes of Maricopa, McClintock and Hamilton, while Desert Vista prepares for a tough slate of games against O'Connor, Mountain View and Chandler.
Wolph admits she is already looking forward to her team building from their hard-fought victory.
"We've got to get focused from this game and get focused from those and just move ahead," she said.
Cole is an intern while studying at Arizona State.