Tucked away in the storage room of the Mountain Pointe gym was a ball very few people knew about, including the one person it was intended for on Friday night.
Pride girls basketball coach Trevor Neider kept it hush on purpose, but with about three minutes left in Mountain Pointe’s second-round win over Tolleson on that night there was the first clue.
Senior Caitlyn Hetrick was subbed out of the game and it was revealed that she had surpassed 1,000 points her in career.
“I didn’t want everyone worried about getting her the ball or something like that,” Neider said. “We had a game to win, and I was confident we’d get it done, but I wanted to make sure it was the No. 1 priority.”
Hetrick, who needed 13 points, wouldn’t have it any other way. She was kept in the dark, but not out of the lane against Tolleson as she scored 22 points to reach the milestone.
Neider presented her with the ball from the storage closest with all the pertinent information written on it during the team meeting after the game.
“It’s a realization of what I’ve done and that it is almost over,” Hetrick said. “It means a lot.”
Her performance, along with Kaylah Luope’s 21 points and 10 rebounds, helped the Pride girls become the only local team to make it to the second week of the state tournament.
The Pride was 26-5 heading into its game at No. 2 Highland on Monday night (the results were unavailable for AFN’s deadline) in the third round of the Division I state tournament.
The other three area teams had their chances in the second round or earlier, but came up short in very different ways.
The Mountain Pointe boys turn in their uniforms with the most amount of wonder.
The Pride (14-13) came ever so close to knocking off defending state champion and No. 1 seed Corona del Sol on Saturday night.
Mountain Pointe had the right guy with the ball. It was the right shot from 10 feet away. It was in the basket.
And then, it wasn’t.
The ball rolled around and came out, the buzzer blared, Corona del Sol had pulled a rabbit out of its hat for a fourth time in the game’s final 10 minutes of play, and the top-seeded team refused to leave.
After 40 minutes and two overtimes, a Khari Holloway shot, which circled the rim and came out, was the last moment of the 2012-2013 season for Mountain Pointe as the Pride fell 66-65 in double overtime loss.
“I’m proud to be their coach,” Mountain Pointe coach Aaron Windler said. “They executed the game plan, guys stepped up one after another and played the hardest they possibly could.”
The Pride led at the end of regulation, the first overtime, and the final extra session only to have Corona respond each time.
“It just wasn’t meant to be,” Windler said. “Sometimes things happen for a reason and we don’t know why until years later. It was an unbelievable game played too early in this tournament. It was unbelievable.”
Desert Vista’s postseason ending was less abrupt.
The Thunder girls (18-11) also ran into the state’s top seed as St. Mary’s opened up a 14-1 lead to start and didn’t let up in an 80-34 win on Friday night, but not before Thunder junior Emily Wolph also broke 1,000 points in her career.
The 22th seeded Desert Vista boys (14-13) exit came Thursday night in the first round against No. 11 Gilbert, 66-53, in the first round of the boys state Division I basketball tournament.
The Thunder’s Avery Brunson (11 points) hit back-to-back long shots for Desert Vista to cut the lead to 52-44 with 4:07 left. The Thunder, however, could get no closer as it tried to foul to stop the clock and Gilbert hit six straight foul shots to open up a 14-point lead.
“We just didn’t play hard enough to get it done,” Williams said. “But I’m proud of my guys. They stuck with it when we went through some adversity and we made it to the state playoffs.”
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