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AIA365 Staff | Students

Don Ketchum

Staff Writer,

Highland girls escape with narrow hoops win over Xavier

Jan 7, 2013

The numbers and Phoenix Xavier momentum hung around the necks of Gilbert Highland’s basketball players like a ton of bricks.

Highland trailed the host Gators 29-20 with about three minutes left in the third quarter on Monday night (Jan. 7). That was shortly after Highland coach Miner Webster got whistled for a technical foul at 3:44, due to him voicing his displeasure over a discrepancy of fouls.

Highland’s girls, No. 3 in the Division I power seedings entering this week, did not give up, however.

The Hawks made an 8-2 run to close out the third quarter, hung with the No. 14 Gators throughout the fourth and made their move at just the right time, escaping with a 41-39 victory on Olivia Lucero’s basket with 4 seconds left.

Highland climbed to 17-3, while Xavier dropped to 12-4.

“Geez, I’m still doing this, with all the emotion and stress that goes with it,’’ Webster said in a brief self-coaching evaluation afterward.

“The group we had in there did a great job, and it wasn’t just the starters. They hung in there and battled.’’

Highland was called for 15 fouls, including Webster’s “T,’’ and Xavier only 6. Highland made its only two free throws, both in the second half.

And Xavier senior forward Katie Werner scored 26 points, converting 17 of 20 attempts from the line.

That is what had Webster hot under the collar.

The sequence to end the third quarter is what allowed Highland to be in a position to win, he said.

Webster called a timeout with 2:43 left in the third quarter, and told his players that they could do it if they could cut the deficit to a few points entering the fourth. They did so, trailing just 31-28.

Rebecca Rudd hit a 3-point shot, Melinda Myers completed a three-point play and Lucero hit a reverse layup to make it 29-28 before Xavier’s Ashley Orozco hit a driving shot with 9 seconds left.

Werner hit her final two free throws with 1:15 left in the game to give Xavier a 39-37 lead, and Rudd scored at the 1:04 mark to tie it back up.

Xavier worked the ball around, missed its shot, Highland rebounded and Webster called another timeout with 21 seconds left.

Highland worked the ball around the perimeter, then got the ball to Lucero, who was just inside the top of the key. Her shot hit the back of the rim and fell back in.

“In games like this, you learn a lot,’’ Webster said.