Sanders Valley girls basketball swarm Gilbert Christian to clinch semifinal berth

Sanders Valley girls basketball swarm Gilbert Christian to clinch semifinal berth

News

Sanders Valley girls basketball swarm Gilbert Christian to clinch semifinal berth

By

PRESCOTT VALLEY – The Gilbert Christian Cinderella story seemed to be chugging right along for a quarter in its Division III quarterfinal game against Sanders Valley on Monday at Tim’s Toyota Center.

The slipper didn’t fit after that. No. 2 Valley stepped up the pressure and routed the upstart No.23 seed in a 61-20 win. Valley (26-3) will face Fort Defiance Window Rock in a semifinal game at 2:45 p.m. Friday at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.

It will be the fourth time the two teams have met this season.

“We pretty much know their defense and offense and who their shooters are,” Valley coach Julia Six said. “We just studied their film.”

What Six hadn’t studied was Gilbert Christian (20-13). Aside from the odd comment from a fan or parent who saw Gilbert Christian in the second round at Northern Arizona University, Six had no idea what to expect.

Valley started the game tentatively, almost taking a quarter just to scout its opponent. Gilbert Christian led 12-8 heading into the second period.

“It was a game that started out very well,” Gilbert Christian coach Daryl Young said. “We came out prepared and came out and did some things that worked right away. We just did not deal with the pressure.”

The pressure came when the first second ticked off the clock in the second quarter. Six deployed her players in a swarming full-court press that she must have learned from a swarm of great white sharks.

The formula is simple: pressure, swipe and run. Gilbert Christian committed 15 turnovers in the first half, including seven in a row in the second quarter.

Valley finished with 27 takeaways. Most ended with buckets on the other end.

“A lot of the other teams have figured us and got into our fast-breaking,” Six said. “But today, they were determined. They ran.”

On her 16th birthday, sophomore Kristan Quigley led Valley with 16 points, all in the first half. Adrinna Nez added 15 and Chelena Betoney had 12.

Gilbert Christian was led by Cassidy Curtner (seven points) and Rebecca Fritts (six). Young’s team has a bright future, returning all but two players and now loaded with playoff experience.

“To get into the top eight teams in the state in Division III after our ups and downs, I’m so proud of them,” he said.

More USA TODAY High School Sports