TEMPE – This time Desert Vista kept the throttle down.
The fifth-seeded Thunder girls basketball team never let up in knocking out rival No. 4 Mountain Pointe in the Elite Eight of the Division I state tournament with a 61-45 win on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Arena.
The start of the game was similar to the regular season meeting when the Thunder took a commanding lead, but then a lull let the Pride back in before DV won 57-53.
This time there was no lull.
"We never let up this time," Desert Vista coach J'Ontar Coleman said. "We jumped out to a big lead, but we did a good job of keeping the pressure on them and made them play us instead of giving them some chances."
This time it was all Thunder (28-2) as they move into the state semifinals for the first time since 2004 after dominating for four quarters.
Desert Vista led 22-7 after one despite the fact Kristine Anigwe (11 points) got into foul trouble early and pushed it to 33-16 at halftime when Sabrina Haines, who finished with 17 points, went coast-to-coast to score a layup at the buzzer.
Emily Wolph, who finished with 14 points, scored the first six points of the third quarter on a three-point play and a 3-pointer to push the lead to 39-16 to pretty much end the Pride’s season.
Mountain Pointe (21-10) finished its fifth straight season with at least 20 wins.
The game was eerily similar to last year's exit in the postseason when Mountain Pointe lost to Highland. In that game, the Pride trailed 47-28 after three quarters when a terrible opening quarter never gave the Pride a chance in the Elite Eight at Wells Fargo Arena.
Against the Thunder, they trailed 49-30 after three in the same building in the same spot in the DI tournament.
"We dug ourselves a huge hole and had to fight to get back," Thunder coach Trevor Neider said. "We came back last time (against DV), but you have to fight up hill for the last three quarters. We had a couple of nice runs, but just never sustained it enough to get back into it."
Senior Mady Sulka added to her 1,000-point career total with a 22-point effort while Kaylah Lupoe added 11 points.
"We had a great senior class," Neider said. "They all worked hard, and I think they all are honor students. It's a shame we didn't play like we could, but DV is a very good team and you can't play like that against them."
The Thunder will play top-seeded Dobson, which needed overtime to beat No. 8 Millennium, on Friday in the semifinals at Wells Fargo at 6 p.m.
Desert Vista played a solid game, but the Thunder know there is another level out there if they want to make the finals for the second time in school history and have a shot at the program's first championship.
The Thunder beat Dobson 53-42 on Dec. 21.
"We are focused and there are two games left to be played," Haines said. "You think about winning it all, but we know we have to get there first and we have to play our best game to get that chance."
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSKoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.