Alchesay High School took the Arizona State Girls’ Basketball Championship for 2A sized schools by edging out Scottsdale Christian Academy 40-36 at Gila River Arena on Saturday, Feb. 23.
Fans from Whiteriver helped to fill half of the lower tier at the 17,000-person venue and they sounded like it. The boys were overwhelmed by a large and skillful team from Scottsdale Christian 72 to 41, but the girls pitted skill against size with success, hard won as it was.
Scottsdale had two 5’11” players and three 5’10” players. Alchesay’s tallest players were Vercelia Martinez and D’Ara Dosela at 5 ft. 8 inches. But the highest scorer for Alchesay was 5 ft. 3 in. Laney Lupe, No. 22, who put in 13 points and No. 20 Jada Sanchez, 5 ft. 5 in., who scored nine points from three 3-point baskets.
Globe’s team was bested by Chandler Prep in the first round, and Alchesay bested Chandler Prep in the semi-finals. After winning their first game, San Carlos lost their bid to confront Alchesay to St. Johns who was beaten by Scottsdale Christian 44-35 to set up the championship game with Alchesay.
Most of the points for Scottsdale were made by Kylie Hearn (16 points) and Payton Kolar (17 points) but they came up short as eight players from Alchesay put in 13 baskets including five three-pointers. Crucially, they only missed three of 14 free throw attempts. Scottsdale went ahead by six points right off the tip that’s as far ahead as they got with Alchesay zooming to a 9-point lead at the beginning of the third quarter. In the last minute of the game, Laney Lupe put Alchesay ahead with a 3-pointer and Hern reduced the gap to one point, 37-36.
In the last 22 seconds, Marcilia Martinez scored two free throws and Densia Massey scored one as Scottsdale tried to get the ball back to tie or win. Eight players from Alchesay will be graduating, as will Hearn and Kolar for Scottsdale. As usual, the final game was against a private school, but surprisingly San Carlos and Globe did not go farther, although a good showing by Alchesay was to be expected.