MESA - The Desert Vista girls basketball team struggled all season. Losses mounted, injuries sapped the depth at times and goals were not attained.
It was hard to tell Tuesday night.
Third-seeded Mesa Mountain View came away with a hard fought 63-51 victory over No. 14 Desert Vista in the first round of the Class 5A Division I girls basketball state tournament.
But the Thunder kept it close all game and early in the fourth quarter cut the lead down to two points, 42-40, after guard Deijon Williams banked in a 3-pointer.
Mountain View (24-2) promptly responded with a 9-0 run to make the lead 51-40 with 4 minutes left.
Desert Vista (12-16) was able to stay in the game until the trio of Rene Coggins, MacKenzie Bush, and Arnecia Hawkins took over during the fourth quarter run.
"We came out ready to win," Desert Vista coach Rachel Proudfoot said. "We played hard and stayed with the game plan."
Junior post Jaymee Brugman had a big game for the Thunder finishing with 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds. However, her supporting cast fell into foul trouble, greatly hurting the Thunder's chance at an upset.
Senior guard Cieara Spooner and junior center Tinisha Toussaint both picked up many fouls forcing coach Proudfoot to have to sit them.
"Those two are spark players for us, when they're on the bench it's not good for us," Proudfoot said.
Spooner and Toussaint were effective when playing, but their minutes were limited. Freshman point guard Emily Wolph had eight points in the losing effort.
Mountain View coach Henry Bribiescas knew his team would be in a battle all game and implored his team to not let up after getting out to an early lead.
"They are a much better team than a 14 seed would show," Bribiescas said.
The Toros had their hands full against a tough Thunder defense. In the end, they were able to break through with a few huge 3-pointers by Coggins and Hawkins. Coggins led the way for Mountain View with 19 points, while Hawkins added 16 points.
"Desert Vista is tough, young team and they play hard," Bribiescas said.
Desert Vista had the lead at the end of the first quarter, 15-12, after going on a large run to end the quarter. The Toros took over the lead at the half by five, and did not extend into a double-digit lead until midway through the third quarter.
Desert Vista stayed composed and cut the lead down to two early in the fourth quarter. The Thunder's season came to an end with the loss, but Mountain View's coach sees promise for the program.
"They're a good, young team and they have good things looking for them in the future," Bribiescas said.
Kemp is a freshman journalism major at Arizona State University.