The Scottsdale Christian Eagles women’s basketball team opened their campaign in the AIA 2A Metro Regional Tournament against Rancho Solano Preparatory School on the SCA home court Wednesday night. Having secured a first-round bye through their table-topping regular season record, the Eagles’ first post-season action came in the semifinal round in front of an enthusiastic crowd of spectators and fans.
Senior forward Payton Kolar opened the game’s scoring from the free throw line, an early indication of the inside dominance she would demonstrate throughout the match with aggressive rebounding, active movement, and powerful moves in the paint. At the other end of the court, junior forward Hayden Hancock and junior guard Jordan McDonald choked off the threat of Mustang scoring inside with timely trapping and sensible interior defense. Jordan McDonald also pulled down defensive rebounds and made steals in the press, while senior guard Lily Snyder gave the Eagles multiple looks on possessions with offensive rebounding. Senior guard Emma Kawamoto added to the defensive pressure on Rancho Solano with steals on the perimeter, while senior guard and team captain Kylie Hearn turned the three-point line into her own personal free fire zone. With Hayden Hancock turning in fine offensive work on the blocks and knocking down free throws, the Eagles were firing on all cylinders to take a 19-2 first quarter lead.
The second quarter saw Coach Bob Fredericks introduce young Eagles to the game, as freshman forward Brooke Hancock showed her quick feet on defense to snap up steals, while sophomore guard Kathryn Dick blocked shots, forced turnovers, and scored inside. Junior forward Heather Hancock showed a nice touch to score inside on entry passes from freshman guard Sedona Nuessle and Kathryn Dick, and Jordan McDonald returned to hit from three. Payton Kolar scored at will and added to the shot-blocking, while Lily Snyder showed her superior speed to jump the passing lane for several steals and to finish fast breaks while also knocking down the short corner jumper to give SCA a 37-12 halftime lead.
In the second half SCA showed a variety of defensive looks, leading to Kylie Hearn making steals and scoring at the other end, and Payton Kolar’s inside dominance continued on the offensive boards, leading to many possessions with multiple shot opportunities. Kylie Hearn continued to feed Payton Kolar and Hayden Hancock for easy shots inside in the half-court offense and to find Sedona Nuessle in transition for uncontested lay-ups. Youth continued to serve, as freshman guard Lily Richardson entered the game to operate the Eagles’ offense, while Kathryn Dick blocked shots and stepped over her defenders to score inside to extend the lead in the third quarter to 53-18.
The final frame Coach Fredericks worked on possession ball, with the Eagles maintaining a passing perimeter until Brooke Hancock worked her way open inside for the bucket. Alternatively, Kathryn Dick also demonstrated instant scoring off the steal, while Emma Kawamoto provided the crowd with a thrilling behind-the-back save and chased down the world’s longest rebound from a missed free throw to the three-point line. With all three Hancocks in the game, the Eagles enjoyed a massive rebounding advantage, and Savannah Cardona knocked down the second-chance jumper in the lane to conclude the scoring.
With their 22nd win of the season the varsity girls now look forward to a championship showdown with Phoenix Country Day School at 5:30PM on Friday night in the SCA gym. The winner will claim the tournament title for the 2A Metro division, so come out and cheer for our cagers!
Photography by Blake Berryman, https://blakeberrymanphotography.smugmug.com/Gallery