The Desert Vista girls basketball team clearly got the funk out of its system.
A week after losing in the opening round of sectionals to a higher seeded team, the Thunder dominated 17th-seeded Phoenix North, 55-30, to start the Division I state tournament in a game where they didn’t score in the fourth quarter.
“That was Desert Vista basketball and it was a great team effort,” Desert Vista interim head coach J’Ontar Coleman said. “We told them the magic number is five to win state. We played together, good defense and we played the way I wanted to play.”
After No. 16 Desert Vista (18-10) lost 61-57 to Marcos de Niza on Feb. 5 in the first round of sectionals, the team had a week to set things straight.
Even without 6-foot-4 sophomore Kristine Anigwe, who had to sit out because being ejected from the last game, the Thunder looked crisp against North (22-9).
They made the extra pass, created offense with their defense and finished layups. Desert Vista outscored North 19-1 in third quarter for a 55-22 lead.
“We needed that loss (to Marcos),” senior Kylie Butler said. “It let us get our focus back and when we play like that we are hard to beat.”
It sets up a nothing-to-lose scenario against nationally-ranked and No. 1 St. Mary’s on Friday on the Knights’ home court.
“We’re not afraid of St. Mary’s,” Coleman said. “If we play our brand of basketball and play smart it could be a shocker. We just have to keep playing Thunder brand of basketball.”
The win was a nice sendoff for five seniors who played their final game in the Storm Center.
Butler led the way with 17 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two assists, while Jayla Brown had nine points and four rebounds. Ali Kennedy had four points and three assists, while Jordan Bivens and Shelby Shirley did their part as well.
“I was talking about it being our last game during the National Anthem,” Butler said. “I was going to cry. We have a great, close senior class.”
The fourth quarter was played under the running clock and the Desert Vista didn’t score. The only shot at drama came when junior guard Emily Wolph, who had 13 points, came back into the game in search of her 1,000th career point.
She missed a 3-pointer from the left wing to enter the St. Mary’s (25-1) game sitting at 998 unofficially.
“We tried but we didn’t want to risk anything with the score what it was,” Coleman said. “I told her I want her to see her get it again St. Mary’s anyway.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN