- Dobson (Mesa, Ariz.)
tried to win one for the old neighborhood.
And for a quarter the Mustangs did, grabbing a lead against the nation's No. 1 team in St. Mary's (Phoenix, Ariz.)
in Thursday's Division I state semifinals.
Eventually, though the depth, defense and talent of St. Mary's, a private school made of girls from all over the Valley, won out, as the Knights cruised to a 61-28 triumph at Jobing.com Arena to advance to its fourth straight title game.
But for a while the Mustangs (24-9) had it rolling – leading 10-2 – and 15-13 after the first quarter.
Had they kept up that momentum, it would have been a terrific story. But that was probably too much to ask.
Arizona adheres to open enrollment policies, so a team like the Mustangs, made up of a complete roster of girls from the same neighborhood, are a rarity.
More rare, however, is an Arizona girls team at the top of the national ranking and St. Mary's (29-0) is at the pinnacle for a reason. Its defensive tsunami eventually took control and the Mustangs were caught in the undertow.
Making matters worse for the underdogs was that St. Mary's eventually found a rhythm offensively. After starting 1 for 9 from the 3-point line, the Knights went on a 38-6 run over the next two quarters. They held Dobson to one point in the third quarter.
"They came out really ready to play and I was proud with the way our kids responded," St. Mary's coach Curtis Ekmark said. "Our defense was solid in the first half and spectacular in the third. We told the kids that is what was going to win it for us. We had to shut things down."
For awhile though, it was a looking a little bit like the 2009-10 season when Dobson beat St. Mary's for the then-Class 5A Division I title.
"I did have a little flashback when they were up 10-2," Ekmark said. "They came out the same way in that game."
Dobson coach Tyler Dumas recognized the similarities as well before it came crashing down.
"We executed the game plan well," Dumas said, "(St. Mary's) ramped it up. ... I've always said they are Division I athletes (already) playing high school basketball. We are twigs next to them."
, who took over the third quarter when she had a majority of her 14 rebounds and four blocks, was only a freshman on that squad that lost to Dobson.
"I got the rebounds but my teammates did all of the dirty work," said Osahor, who added 10 points and four assists. "We did it on the defensive end and we all did a good job."
The Mustangs made only 5 of 35 shot attempts in the second half as the game got out of hand.
"We got to the basket but didn't convert," Dumas said. "You can't shoot like that and expect to win. If we make those, then it is a different game."
The same could be said for St. Mary's slow start offensively as the Knights made just 10 of 31 from the field in the first half, including a 2 of 10 effort from the 3-point line.
The Knight eventually got it going after Osahor, who shoots flat-footed, connected on a 3-pointer with 2:36 left in the second quarter to go up 27-18. Her shooting motion is something from the 1950s when set shots were the rage. Osahor also made all five of her free-throw attempts.
"I'm smart enough to not change it," Ekmark said. "She's a great player and I think she is the best high school post passer and not just in Arizona."
Osahor had plenty as help per usual as Harvard-bound Shilpa Tummala
had 16 points, while Cortnee Walton
and Courtney Ekmark
added 12 each.
"We are playing our best and it's a good time to be doing it during championships," Osahor said. "We have to work a little bit harder in practice and come home with (the title)." Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) 52, Mountain View (Mesa, Ariz.) 50
Trailing 50-48 in the final 30 seconds, top-seeded Mountain View (Mesa, Ariz.) had three open looks at the basket but couldn't convert as No. 12 Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) advanced to its first state title game.Cassidee Ranger
and Aliyah Dickson
had 15 points each for the Huskies (27-6), while Jordan Jensen
had 15 for the Toros (29-3).
Hamilton will now play St. Mary's in Saturday's 2 p.m. final, also at Jobing.com Arena. Division I boys
SemifinalsChavez (Laveen, Ariz.) 62, Pinnacle (Phoenix, Ariz.) 58 OTJD Reagan
scored 27 points including a long 3-pointer to send the game into overtime, leading No. 6 Cesar Chavez to the upset win over No. 2 Pinnacle. The Champions (27-5) advanced to their second title game in three years.
Reagan made five 3-pointers and scored 19 points after intermission and teammate Pablo Rivas
added 12. Pinnacle was led by Drew Bender with 23 points.Corona del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.) 49, Desert Vista (Phoenix, Ariz.) 46
Arizona State-bound Calaen Robinson
had 21 points and sophomore Casey Benson
added 13 as the top-seeded Aztecs (31-1) held off a furious fourth-quarter rallies from the fifth-seeded Thunder (23-9), who got 15 points from Eastern Washington-bound Danny Powell
The Aztecs looked in control, up 45-33 on a driving layup by Robinson early in the fourth quarter, but junior guard Greg Carter
came off the bench to lead a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 45-42 with 1:42 left. After two free throws by Benson, Powell buried a 3-pointer to make it 47-45.
But that's as close as Desert Vista would get and a rebound and free throw by Robinson gave Corona del Sol a 49-46 lead with 9.4 seconds left. A desperation 3-pointer from Powell at the buzzer wasn't close and the Aztecs held on.
Corona del Sol could have made life easier for itself, but was 13-for-24 at the free throw line. SEE ENTIRE ARIZONA BOYS AND GIRLS BRACKET. Jason P. Skoda, a former Arizona Republic and current Ahwatukee Foothills News staff writer, is a 15-year sports writing veteran. Contact him at email@example.com or 480-272-2449.