Horizon Huskie Jordan Wehr (30) is blocked by the Valley Vista Monsoon as she goes for a lay up during their game in Scottsdale, Ariz. Friday Dec. 12, 2014.
After the first quarter Friday, with Surprise Valley Vista holding a 20-2 lead over Phoenix Horizon, Valley Vista coach Rachel Matakas looked more like someone whose team was down 18 points rather than comfortably ahead by that margin.
Even near the end of Valley Vista’s 53-28 victory over host Horizon – a Division I non-section win – Matakas was calling out instructions and chiding her players after mistakes, as if the outcome rested on every possession.
All part of the plan this early in a long season, Matakas said.
“I’m a perfectionist,” she said. “When I see little things that shouldn’t happen and they know better, then I’m going to call them out on it. We’re trying to get stronger as we go into sectional play.”
Valley Vista (8-3) was certainly the stronger team Friday, clobbering Horizon (7-3) right from the start.
It held Horizon without a basket in the first quarter, allowing only two free throws with 38 seconds left. It didn’t get much better for Horizon from there, as the team failed to crack double digits in any quarter.
It was an impressive defensive effort from a Valley Vista team that entered the game giving up just 38.2 points per contest.
“Everybody’s coming together as one whole unit,” sophomore forward Kiara Edwards said. “Instead of just poking somebody, we’re actually punching people in the face with our defense.”
On the offensive side, freshman guard Taylor Chavez led Valley Vista with 11 points and Edwards contributed 10. Overall, Valley Vista got points from 10 different players, out of the 13 who received playing time.
The deep rotation gave Valley Vista the energy advantage and flustered Horizon all night.
“I think we’re difficult to play,” Matakas said. “We’re hard to match up with because we’ve got height, size and speed. These kids are buying into the system that it’s not a one-man show. It’s a 13-man show.
“I always tell them, ‘If everybody scores eight points and there’s 13 of you, do the math.’ And if there’s 10 that score eight, that’s 80 points. I don’t think you can ever get beat if you score 80 points.”
Senior Andie Easley was a bright spot for Horizon, scoring 14 of her team’s 28 points.