AIA365 Staff Insiders
Don KetchumStaff Writer, AIA365.com email@example.com
T-bird girls survive close ones, capture Arcadia hoops titleDec 28, 2012
You want close? The Phoenix Thunderbird girls will give you close.
The Lady Chiefs had a 12-point lead with five minutes to go against Scottsdale Saguaro in the semifinals of the Lady Titan Winter Hoops Classic on Friday (Dec. 28) before letting it slip away and then escaping with a one-point victory.
Back at it several hours later in the championship game against host Phoenix Arcadia, Thunderbird got six points from sophomore Ann Shikles and five from freshman Ozahria Fisher in the fourth quarter and went home with a 34-30 triumph.
It nearly was a carbon copy of the championship game of the (Phoenix) Moon Valley tournament in November, when Fisher hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Thunderbird a 29-26 win.
Arcadia (16-3), which defeated Peoria in its semifinal, took a 25-23 lead to begin the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by sophomore Andrea Goulette, her third long shot of the game.
A basket by Shikles (14 points tied it) for Thunderbird (18-1), but Arcadia crept out to a three-point lead on a basket by Janay Johnson and a free throw by Kylie Herd (15 points). Fisher tied it with a big 3-pointer at the 4:14 mark.
Shikles hit a pair of free throws with 2:49 left for a 30-28 lead, and Johnson tied it back up for Arcadia at the two-minute mark. It would be the Lady Titans’ final points.
Thunderbird took the lead for good with 1:28 left when Fisher fed Shikles coming across the lane for a bucket, and Fisher wrapped it up with a pair of free throws with 27 seconds left. She finished with 10 points.
Thunderbird coach Barry Ringel is enjoying watching Fisher develop into a player who can make an impact.
“She’s just a “baby,’ she’s 14, but all the girls believe in her,’’ Ringel said.
What allowed Thunderbird to stay in the game was its second-half defense against Herd, a 6-foot post player who scored 12 of her points in the first half.
Instead of sagging in on Herd, the Lady Chiefs went to a box-and-one defense, putting pressure on the point and rarely allowing the ball to get into Herd.
The Lady Chiefs also were smarter with the basketball.
“We’re not really an offensive team, so every possession is valuable,’’ Ringel said.
Arcadia coach Ives Machiz said he and his players were frustrated by what he termed was overly physical play by the Thunderbird defense.
Friday’s matchup probably won’t be the last between the teams, Ringel said. He predicted that they would meet again in the state tournament in February.
“Arcadia is always one of the top teams,’’ Ringel said. “We respect them as a team and I respect Ives as a coach.’’