Highland girls' hot start buries Mountain Pointe

After two weeks with two dramatically different offensive performances, Gilbert Highland coach Miner Webster was a little worried about which team would show up Monday.

But his fears were put to bed early when Highland’s offense, led by senior Rebecca Rudd went 15-for-22 from the field in the first two quarters to help the No.2 seed to a 62-55 win over No.7 Phoenix Mountain Pointe in the quarterfinal round of the Division I girls basketball championships at Wells Fargo Arena.

“The good team showed up tonight,” Webster said.

Highland moves on to face No.3 Phoenix Pinnacle in the semifinals of the Division I tournament at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Wells Fargo.

Rudd had eight of Highland’s 11 points in the first quarter and totaled 17 in the first half.

She said her hot first-half performance surprised her a bit as it came after a lackluster warm-up, but she found her rhythm when it counted.

“I hit that first shot and it was like, ‘All right, here we go,’” Rudd said. “Then I hit the second, third, fourth. Once you start, you can’t really stop.”

Rudd finished the game with a career-high 29 points.

“That’s what she has the capability of doing,” Webster said. “And she picked a great time to do it.”

Highland’s strong first-half performance helped it to a 32-21 lead at intermission, and it came out and outscored Mountain Pointe 15-7 in the third quarter to stretch the lead to 19 heading into the fourth.

But Mountain Pointe was going down without a fight. It continued to chip away in the fourth quarter and came within two possessions in the final minute, but it just didn’t have enough to catch Highland in the end.

“We let them hang around and make it a decent game,” Webster said. “We’ll work on that tomorrow.”

Webster said he knows the road ahead is still all uphill, but if the offensive plays like it did Monday, he said he likes his team’s chances.

“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “There are still some very good teams ahead of us.”

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