J'ontar Coleman had one message for the Desert Vista administration when he interviewed for the girls basketball coaching position:
"Give me one year," Coleman reiterated Friday night after the fifth-seeded Thunder triumphed over top seed Dobson, 54-49, in the Division I state semifinals at Wells Fargo Arena.
Desert Vista (29-2) will play sixth-seeded Westview for the championship at 1 p.m. Saturday at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.
"It's incredible," said Coleman, who started last season as the junior varsity coach but finished as head of the varsity program yet still had to interview during the offseason.
Desert Vista was the 16 seed in last year's state tournament and lost in the second round to eventual champion St. Mary's.
"I had a gut feeling we'd come close but not this far," Coleman said.
Junior Kristine Anigwe, at 6-feet, 4-inches, and senior Emily Wolph were the biggest reasons for Desert Vista's success this season — as they were against Dobson — and they will be counted on heavily against Westview as the Thunder seek the program's first state championship.
"They play fast and furious," Coleman said of Westview, which advanced to the title game on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer against Hamilton. "But we have players and when we need to we can dump it down to Kristine."
Westview coach Lisa Contreras knows all about Anigwe, who averaged 16 points per game this year and had 20 in the semifinals, but she isn't conceding anything.
"We don't have many big girls bur haven't been hurt too much inside this year," Contreras said after she watched Anigwe dominate Dobson most of the second half. "We'll have to really rebound and play team defense."
Westview is in the title game after falling in the quarterfinals a year ago.
"We wanted to make sure we went further than last year but we're still not satisfied," Contreras said. "We're prepared all season for state."