Sometimes, it takes just one great quarter to flip an entire game upside down.
That’s how the Mountain Pointe girls basketball team advanced to the second round of the 6A girls basketball state championship Tuesday night.
The 10th-seeded Pride upset seventh-seeded Xavier 51-47 in their opening-round game, completing a 14-point comeback to stun the Gators on their home floor.
“Defensively, I thought we did a great job minimizing their possessions, just getting one stop, then one shot, and one opportunity to score,” Mountain Pointe coach Justin Hager said. “I thought our kids were really mentally tough, and they really grinded it out tonight.”
Senior shooting guard Baily Osmer scored 12 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Pride’s charge back from a 10-point deficit at the start of the final period. Mountain Pointe’s largest deficit was 14 with exactly four minutes remaining in the third.
“We really dug ourselves a hole, but I’m a senior and I didn’t want to go home tonight,” Osmer said. “I knew in order for us to keep going we had to keep playing and keep scoring, so I just knew I had to get the ball in the hole.”
Everyone in the gym could feel the comeback was real when the Pride cut the Xavier Prep lead to five with 4:09 remaining in the fourth. The Pride was able to tie the game at 44 with 2:41 to go.
Then the game really started.
Mountain Pointe took its first lead since the early stages of the first quarter with an Osmer 3-pointer with 1:50 to go in the fourth. Senior Xavier guard Brittany Robinson answered with a 3 of her own only seconds later to tie the game back up at 47.
“It’s not surprising Baily was such a big part of our comeback,” Hager said. “She had a tough first quarter but didn’t want her season to end, so she did a good job as far as leading us back. That’s her role. The kids look to her to do stuff like that, and she’s been doing it all year long. That’s why she’s one of the best players in the state.”
Senior Pride center Jenise Strover scored the final two of her 14 points with a strong move low in the post to give the Pride the lead back with 1:14 to go. After turnovers by both teams on the following two possessions, Xavier Prep had 23 seconds to tie the game up. Xavier sophomore point guard Leilani McIntosh drove to the basket for a game-tying layup but was blocked by Osmer.
Pride point guard Isela Enriquez was fouled with five seconds remaining and iced the game at the line by hitting both free throws.
“We treated every possession like a mini-game. We said just chip away, chip away,” Hager said. “We figured we had to win every two-minute segment to get back in it, so we broke every quarter into four two-minute segments. But it came down to just getting stops and allowing them just one shot at the basket, and then out.”
Outside of the first quarter that never saw either team take more than a two-point lead, Xavier Prep dominated the game until the fourth quarter. The Pride wasn’t hitting their shots, and if that didn’t make it difficult enough, it seemed as if they were turning the ball over every other possession.
Xavier junior forward Montana Oltrogge was simply unstoppable for the Gators. She recorded 29 of her team’s 47 points, including the first 15 points Xavier Prep scored in the game. The Gators led 12-10 at the end of the first quarter. Oltrogge had all 12 of those points.
The unlikely comeback moves Mountain Pointe to 22-9 overall and avenges their 47-44 loss to Xavier Prep from earlier this season on Nov. 29. It also keeps their title hopes alive in their eighth consecutive state tournament appearance.
The Pride will face second-seeded and defending state champion Hamilton, and former coach Trevor Neider, in the quarterfinals on Friday night. The Pride fell to the Huskies 60-47 earlier this season on Nov. 25 at a neutral site.
“We’re going to have play like we did tonight,” Osmer said. “If we keep going to the basket and play as a team, we’re going to take one home.”
– Krauss is a sports journalism student at Arizona State.