The Super Sectional portion of the postseason allowed for missteps.
A dud of a game - like not scoring in the fourth quarter - can be used as a teaching tool because there was more to come.
The time for slip ups must be a thing of the past at this point. The state basketball tournaments are upon us and with it comes a sense of finality.
A bad game means turning in the uniform and cleaning out the locker. Neither the Mountain Pointe nor Desert Vista girls are ready for that anytime soon.
It will be a reality for one of them on Tuesday evening as the two rivals meet at Wells Fargo Arena in the Elite Eight of the Division I state tournament.
Both squads earned a first-round bye in the Division I tournament despite losing the last time out as both programs lost to Mesquite in the Super Sectional.
The Pride beat Mesquite, who earned the No. 2 seed, twice during the regular season, but had trouble with the Wildcats’ defense in the sectional final in a 52-42 loss.
“We struggled to put the ball in the hoop,” Pride coach Trevor Neider said. “That’s a tough Mesquite defense.”
Fourth-seeded Mountain Pointe (21-9) has five straight 20-win seasons, but it hasn’t translated into a deep postseason run.
That might change if the will to win by senior Maddy Sulka, who went over 1,000 points in her career on Feb. 4, was the determining factor. She pushes the Pride to a new level with her passion and leadership.
Desert Vista (27-2) was eliminated from the Super Sectional in the semifinals after letting a 10-point fourth quarter lead vanquish by going scoreless against Mesquite and scoring just six points in two overtimes.
It was a startling 16 minutes of basketball, considering the talent the Thunder had on the floor, but the loss didn’t change the expectations.
Desert Vista is 0-2 against Mesquite, which is on the other side of the bracket, and 25-0 against the rest of the field. The nearly pristine winning percentage and national ranking took hits, but their confidence didn’t.
“We got careless and didn’t take care of the ball and took bad shots,” Thunder coach J’Ontar Coleman said. “We haven’t played like that all season. It’s one game. We’ll be back.”
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JskodaAFN.