The Scottsdale Christian Eagles women’s basketball team played hosts to the AIA 2A Metro Regional Tournament as SCA was the neutral site for their tilt against a veteran Phoenix Country Day School squad Friday night. A large and enthusiastic crowd of spectators and fans were treated to an outstanding coaching and athletic performance in the championship game showcasing the SCA Eagles and the PCDS Eagles.
The Country Day team opened the game with a slow-play strategy aimed at thwarting the SCA running game, using long possessions to consume the clock on offense, while playing a match-up zone against senior guard Kylie Hearn. Senior forward Payton Kolar showed the way for SCA by opening the scoring inside, and junior forward Hayden Hancock was able to get good looks from the short corner, but the slow probing dribbles and perimeter passing by PCDS ate up the clock and produced high-percentage shots, allowing the visitors to take an 8-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
PCDS alternated a slow half-court offense with a running attack off turnovers and defensive rebounds, so Coach Bob Fredericks sent senior guards Jackie Melvin and Lily Snyder into the game to stem the tide. Kylie Hearn enjoyed some success from the three-point line and the free-throw line, and junior guard Jordan McDonald knocked down the short corner jumper, and SCA introduced sophomore guard Kathryn Dick and began to use a three-quarter court press with positive results. However, the PCDS strategy meant they could also kick out from the drag zone and the drop zone for three-point shots and jumpers, and SCA entered the half down 15-17.
In the second half Hayden Hancock and Payton Kolar boxed out with increasing ferocity, allowing SCA to obtain team rebounds and take multiple shots per possession, and freshman guard Sedona Nuessle and Jordan McDonald were able to convert long-range twos. Kylie Hearn also consistently made her free throws, and with the SCA press producing steals, the SCA Eagles took a 23-21 lead into the final frame.
The fourth quarter produced some excellent intellectual and physical demonstrations. The SCA defense enjoyed more success against the PCDS offense in the breakdown zone, causing PCDS to turn the ball over instead of produce successful scoring opportunities from the dribble drive. As weariness overtook the visitors, they traveled or committed offensive fouls, although it took some minutes before the SCA squad took advantage of their additional possessions.
Payton Kolar beat her defender inside to score, and Sedona Nuessle scored from three. Hayden Hancock swept the defensive boards to limit the PCDS chances, Payton Kolar scored on the drive, and the SCA press turned PCDS over once again. With Hayden Hancock and Kylie Hearn scoring bonus free throws and Coach Fredericks working Lily Snyder and Kathryn Dick in and out for Hayden Hancock and Payton Kolar on each change of possession, the SCA Eagles won the battle of free throws over the final minutes of the game to earn the tournament championship for the 2019 AIA 2A Metro Region.
The SCA Eagles now look forward to the first round of the AIA 2A State Tournament in Prescott, AZ on Friday, February 15.