The Mountain Pointe girls basketball team advanced to the first round of the AIA 6A state tournament Thursday night, dominating Westview start to finish, 58-14.
Mountain Pointe jumped out to a hot start, playing aggressive, full-court, trap defense and opened the game on a 14-0 run. Westview did not get on the board until 1:08 left in the first quarter with a free throw.
At the end of the first quarter, Mountain Pointe led 17-5, and their lead would only continue to grow.
Westview players were visibly frustrated with the up-tempo pace of the game. Their frustrations were manifested in their play, leading to numerous turnovers and questionable shots.
“We’re a very defensive minded team,” said senior forward Eve Kulovitz after the game.
“Scoring is cool, but it’s our defense that keeps us going,” added fellow senior guard Isela Enriquez.
By halftime, the route was on. Mountain Pointe took a 28-9 lead into the half, having forced 20 turnovers. They would force 34 in the game.
Mountain Pointe head coach Justin Hager emphasized the importance of his team’s conditioning, due to the style of defense they play.
“We feel like our tempo in practice relays over to games,” said Hager. “Our practices are fast-paced and a lot harder than games are… they’re actually getting more rest in games than they are in practice.”
When asked about their style of practice, Enriquez never mentioned that the girls hated running in their practices.
“Everything is a competition with us. If we lose we run, so we’re running either way. You either run to win or you run if you lose,” said Enriquez.
Seniors led the way for the Mountain Pointe squad, getting 34 combined points between Isela Enriquez, Eve Kulovitz, and forward Kayci Johnson. Enriquez also fueled the Mountain Pointe defense, accumulating seven steals in the game. Kulovitz’s 15 points were more than the entire Westview team combined.
Hager emphasized aggressive offense and getting to the free throw line to start the second half. Their strategy worked out, as Westview’s senior guard Ji’mya Chambers fouled out with 7:50 left in the game, and eight different Mountain Pointe players attempted free throws.
“Our achilles heel all year long has been not getting to the free throw line. I thought we were more aggressive going to the basket the second half,” said Hager. “Shooting is not our strength, so we have to rely on being aggressive in our transition offense and defense to create our points.”
Even with the blowout victory, Hager and his team were not satisfied with every aspect. They committed a lot of second half fouls, putting Westview in the one-and-one with over six minutes to play.
“We fouled way too much,” said Enriquez. “Our aggressive nature leads to a lot of fouling. We’re trying to keep it to a minimum because when we lose it’s because we sent them to the free throw line too much.”
Hager reiterated Enriquez’s point on fouling, adding the importance of taking smarter shots as they move into the next round of the playoffs. Mountain Pointe’s first-round playoff game will be Feb. 14 against an opponent to be named later.