The end was frantic, the Mountain Pointe girls basketball team ended up ecstatic and this time there was no chance of an asterisk.
The Pride beat Desert Vista 57-54 on Wednesday night to possibly cement the No. 1 seed in next week’s sectional tournament behind an impressive showing by senior Caitlyn Hetrick, who poured in 28 points to help her team sweep the regular season series with their rival.
But it wasn’t just the scoring.
Hetrick was getting rebounds, tipping balls, running down loose balls and getting steals.
“That’s how I want to play every game,” she said. “I want to win a championship for my team.”
This win was more significant than the first meeting in that the Thunder (17-9) were at full strength compared to the first game when Desert Vista was without Emily Wolph, Aly Kennedy and Kristine Anigwe.
“There were rumors that we only won because it was in our own house and they were without three players,” Hetrick said. “We wanted to prove a point that we could come into their gym and get a good win.”
Mountain Pointe (22-4) trailed 41-40 entering the fourth but seemed to take control with a 12-0 run to start the quarter to grab a 52-41 lead as Hetrick scored nine during the scoring barrage.
But the Thunder found away to have a chance at the end.
Kylie Butler (12 points) converted a three-point play after being fouled with 2:02 left to close within 53-46 and then Emily Wolph (19 points) hit a 3-pointer with 58 seconds to make it 55-51.
The Pride’s Maddy Sulka, playing with a heavy heart after a death in the family, made it a three-point game with two free throws with 14.9 seconds left.
The Thunder had three possessions in an attempt to tie it but couldn’t finish off the rally.
“We are a fighting team and there is no quit in us,” interim head coach J’Ontar Coleman said. “We finished strong and that’s our motto. We still got playoffs. I’m proud of my girls.”
Pride coach Trevor Neider has seen his team win two in a row in the rivalry after the program lost at least 12 in row in a streak that pre-dates the 2005-06 season.
He would have preferred a less frantic end, but there is no question that the Pride are playing with a different edge than previous years.
“If we didn’t beat them tonight there would have been questions,” Neider said. “We talked about winning big games. We haven’t had a lot of close games and this gives us confidence that we can come through at the end.”
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