You’d rather have your cold streak at the beginning of the game than at the end.
It worked out that way for Gilbert Highland but not for Chandler Hamilton in Highland’s 53-31 win in the Division I, Section II girls basketball title game Saturday at Gilbert Mesquite High School.
With the win, Highland is likely locked into one of the top two seeds in the state tournament, along with Phoenix St. Mary’s. Which one Highland claims doesn’t really matter to coach Miner Webster, as long as St. Mary’s is on the other side of the bracket.
“We just needed to win, and we did,” Webster said. “Our kids did a great job. I think we’re going to stay at two.”
Highland (30-2) opened the game by missing its first 10 attempts from the field, but rallied with five points in the final minute of the first quarter to trail 9-7. Highland got hot in the second quarter as Hamilton (25-5) began to cool, taking a 25-20 lead into halftime.
Hamilton didn’t score in the final four minutes of the first half. Things didn’t get much better for Hamilton after halftime, as the defending state runner-up went 2 of 23 from the field and missed its last 16 shot attempts.
Highland’s defense had a good amount to do with that, and Highland capitalized on the misses to win the rebounding battle 45 to 22. But Hamilton was also hurt by foul trouble.
Hamilton’s second-leading scorer, Kyndall Adams, picked up her third foul late in the second quarter and sat the entire third quarter. She returned in the fourth, but fouled out with about four minutes left.
“That was huge for us, and horrible for them, obviously, because she’s such a talented player,” Webster said. “She’s so much of their offense and everything else. That was a huge thing.”
Highland was in the bonus for much of the fourth quarter, and Hamilton was noticeably out of sync offensively.
“I think we couldn’t be quite as aggressive because of the foul trouble,” Hamilton coach Jeff Kain said. “We were being a little more passive.”
Olivia Lucero led Highland with 18 points and nine rebounds. Melinda Myers added 11 points and Megan Brown had 12 rebounds and two blocks. For Hamilton, Shelby Hartman had nine points, while Adams and Aaliyah Dickson added seven each.