The Mountain Pointe girls basketball team clearly wasn’t as it best Friday night, not with Kaylah Lupoe sitting on the bench most of the game, and various other missteps.
In years past it might have mattered, but the Pride has progressed enough to win on off nights even if it was a Division I second round playoff game.
Of course it helps having Caitlyn Hetrick playing with a purpose.
The Pride senior scored a game-high 22 points, including the 1,000th of her career, to lead No. 7 Mountain Pointe to a 77-58 win over No. 10 Tolleson.
“Every playoff game you have to put everything on the line,” Hetrick said. “It’s one-and-done. I’m a senior playing my last home game and we had to win this one.”
The Pride (26-5) advances to face No. 2 Highland on Monday at Wells Fargo Arena with a 6 p.m. tipoff.
Mountain Pointe’s season got a boost early on when it beat the Hawks on their home court. Both teams are much different two months later and Pride coach Trevor Neider knows it will be the team’s biggest test of the season.
“We know they are a great team and probably the best program in the state,” Neider said. “They don’t beat themselves. I think we did a lot of that at times tonight. Highland won’t do that. They will beat you 31-30 or 65-60. Whatever they need to do, they do it.”
The Pride handled Tolleson from the start and opened a 31-20 lead on two straight baskets by Monay Mariscal, but Tolleson closed within four at 37-33 before Hetrick took over.
Hetrick, who needed 13 points to break 1,000 points but didn’t know anything about it, scored a basketball, grabbed a defensive rebound that led to an assist and then connected on a baseline jumper to push it back to 43-33 late in the second.
“I don’t even know the score or realize how many points I have,” she said. “I just play as hard as I can until the buzzer.”
There was no need to on this night as she was pulled early in the fourth quarter and it was announced that she had 1,008 career points.
“It’s a realization of what I’ve done and that it is almost over,” she said. “It means a lot.”
The second half was much of the same as the Pride built another big lead – 55-37 - with Lupoe (21 points, 10 rebounds) in the game and then Tolleson closed the gap – 58-51 – with her on the bench before Mountain Pointe sealed it with a defensive stand that saw Tolleson go scoreless for 6 minutes and 13 seconds.
“We weren’t playing well and every time they got a run we pushed it back out,” Neider said. “They were scrappy. We can’t play like that against Highland.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.