It figured to be the Desert Vista girls’ toughest test in the early portion of the season, but the Thunder essentially nullified that notion with a great start against Dobson.
Desert Vista remained undefeated and cemented the prevailing thought that the Thunder are the top team in Division I with a 53-42 win over the Mustangs to win the White Division at the Nike Tournament of Champions.
Desert Vista (12-0) opened the game with 15-3 lead at Hamilton High while getting their hands on several Dobson (13-1) passes that led to easy baskets on the other end.
"It was a great game, two teams going after it punch for punch," Desert Vista coach J’ontar Coleman said. "I know we can play with anybody. We got a 12-point lead in the first quarter, and were able to sustain it."
The two teams both like to pressure and force turnovers, get extra possessions, score and come back for more on defense.
The difference right now is Desert Vista has three reliable scorers in senior guard Emily Wolph, junior post Kristine Anigwe and junior guard Sabrina Haines, while the Mustangs are still searching for a consistent scoring threat.
"They're the best team we've played so far," Coleman said. "They play like we do. Run a good trap, play hard defense. We were able to figure it out, and have our ball handlers get it to the right person."
Wolph scored 14, including eight in the first quarter, of her 16 points in the first half as the Thunder led 30-22 at halftime. Anigwe finished with 11, while Lindsey Payton and Haines had eight apiece.
Dobson got within six in the second half after scoring the first bucket of the third quarter, but Desert Vista pushed it back to 15 on a 3-pointer from Jahnae Martin, an inside bucket by Anigwe and two baskets by Payton.
The key for Dobson, who many considered the second-best team in DI, was getting a look at Desert Vista in real time should the two squads meet down the line.
"We held them to around 50 points and I'll take that," Dobson coach Tyler Dumas said. "But we didn't do well offensively. Credit their athletes and Anigwe. We had trouble with her. They got more easy baskets than we did, more than we could allow....
"They're a very good team. They have the most talent of any team in the state."
The Mustangs were led by Tori Lloyd with 15 points and Miyah Leith added 11. Dobson also lost Dyesha Stahley in the second half to an apparent head injury. She had to be carried off the court because she was woozy and was taken Gilbert Mercy Hospital.
The Thunder won this event for the second time in three years and hope to keep rolling along while working to get better.
“We are not close to playing at our highest level yet,” said Anigwe, who has verbally committed to Cal. “We need to be better in transition and stop the mistakes. Once we start playing at that level then we can make a run at being the best team in state.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.