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Les Willsey

Staff Writer,

Valley Christian tops Tempe Prep to win own girls tournament

Dec 30, 2012

Valley Christian's Ashley Koch (33) releases the game-winning shot in Valley Christian's 46-45 victory over Tempe Prep (Photo courtesy of Alan Radstaak)

One quarter nearly squashed Valley Christian's chances of winning its annual girls basketball tournament on Saturday afternoon. One fateful break on its final possession provided the Trojans the winning bucket.

Sophomore post Ashley Koch came away with a loose ball in the paint and spun for a layup with 1.3 seconds left to give Valley Christian a 46-45 victory over Tempe Prep in the title game of the Valley Christian Invitational at Valley Christian.

Valley Christian (12-3) and Tempe Prep (14-4) cruised through pool play racking up four wins each and winning those by average margins of 29 points and 24 points, respectively. They were more than ready for a competitive game from start to finish.

Koch, who finished with a team-high 13 points, gave VC its first lead since early in the second period with the late basket. Only nine points were scored combined in the final four minutes of play and Tempe Prep's final tallies came on a three-point play by leading scorer Camille Zimmerman that made it 45-40 with 3:43 left in the game.Zimmerman is one of three starters for Tempe Prep who is 6-foot-1.

VC managed to pull within 45-44 on two baskets almost two minutes apart inside by Abby Labahn. Both were scored after 6-1 Lisa Dischinger had fouled out. Dischinger fouled out with four minutes left.

VC controlled the ball for almost the entire final 1:03, which is when it gained possession after Tempe Prep's third turnover down the stretch. VC got off two shots during the possession and came up with rebounds both times. Finally, with 9.5 seconds left, coach Scott Timmer called his final timeout.

"We wanted to take the ball to the basket," Timmer said."When we came out of the timeout we got possession on the opposite side of the court than we expected. The girls did the right thing, and Ashley ended up converting for us."

Sophomore Natalie Denk, who played for the first time this season the last three days after recovering from a broken foot, got the inbounds pass and drove deep in the paint. The ball was knocked loose and somehow Koch came out of the crowd with it and took it quickly to the basket for two.

Tempe Prep, last year's Division IV state champions, still had 1.3 seconds left and almost made something of that. Zimmerman caught a three-quarter court pass and put up an off-balance shot from about 25 feet that caromed off the back of the rim at the buzzer.

"That was tough to lose, but bottom line is we got better with every game of this tournament," Tempe Prep coach Nancy Calahan said. "As defending champs we're finding it a much harder road trying to repeat. We were in the same situation in this tournament last year. We played Valley in the championship game and they toasted us. If feel we're getting better, and that's what  tournament's are for."

The second period was an albatross VC almost didn't shed. That was the quarter Valley squandered a seven-point lead and ended up trailing at halftime, 27-19. Tempe Prep punished VC in those eight minutes, outscoring the Trojans 17-2.Tempe Prep's tall front line of  Zimmerman (18 points), Marissa Rich (14 points) and Dischinger  combined for 14 points that period. Meanwhile VC couldn't buy a basket between 1-of-10 shooting and five turnovers in the quarter.

But VC regrouped in the third period, cutting the deficit it to one after three quarters and setting the stage for the exciting, intense final period.

Denk and Labahn scored 10 points each for VC and offset a tough game offensively for leading scorer Tana Kemmer.  Tempe Prep's 1-3-1 zone gave Kammer few good looks. Kammer finished 2-for-11 and made only one 3.