Desert Vista girls basketball team builds toward special season

Desert Vista girls basketball team builds toward special season

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Desert Vista girls basketball team builds toward special season

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Every so often, in watching a team play and talking to its players, one gets the sense that things have come together in such a way that something special is bound to happen.

That’s the feeling right now around the Phoenix Desert Vista girls basketball team.

Desert Vista was nearly flawless in the first half of the season, winning each of its 12 games by at least 11 points and capping 2013 with a 53-42 victory in the Nike Tournament of Champions over Mesa Dobson, thought to be its biggest competition in Division I.

For a team that had its eyes on a state championship before the season, that goal has gotten more realistic with each dominating victory.

“This is a special team right here,” coach J’ontar Coleman said. “They know what’s at stake, and what we got going on. But right now, we’re just trying to stay humble, stay focused.”

Coleman is in his first full season as the head coach after taking over on an interim basis midway through last year. He inherited a roster brimming with talent, which only increased with the offseason transfer of junior guard Sabrina Haines, who leads the team in assists after doing the same for Mesa Mountain View in 2012-13.

Haines has teamed with senior guard Emily Wolph and junior center Kristine Anigwe to form a sort of Big Three for Desert Vista. Entering Tuesday, Wolph led the team with 17.9 points per game and the 6-foot-4 Anigwe was averaging 7.6 rebounds, more than double any of her teammates.

Beyond those three, Coleman has a rotation that regularly runs 10 or 11 deep, a luxury few coaches enjoy. And the chemistry on the court is strengthened by the players’ bond off it.

“We all hang out with each other at school,” Anigwe said. “We all have each other’s backs. We know that if one person’s down, we’re all going to pick her up.”

Desert Vista lost to eventual state champion Phoenix St. Mary’s in last season’s second round. After that defeat, it didn’t take long for Coleman and his players to start the title talk for this year, and thus far they’ve proven to have what it takes.

“He put that goal of a state championship and getting that ring into our heads,” Wolph said. “For the seniors, it’s our last year here, and you always want to finish on a good note.

“Last season, we didn’t finish off on a (good) note, so from there we knew what we wanted to do this season. And it’s coming together.”

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