PRESCOTT VALLEY - Playing to frontcourt strength, the (13) Camp Verde girls' basketball team defeated the (21) Chinle Wildcats Tuesday, 49-37, in a quarterfinal game of the Division III playoffs at Tim's Toyota Center.
The Cowboys broke down Chinle's full-court defense and worked the ball to their determined low-post machine.
Senior center Lila Hickey led the Cowboys with 15 points and 14 rebounds, and junior power forward Katie Wilson continued her outstanding all-around play.
"We won by going to our strength, and in this game that was me and Katie," said Hickey. "I'm glad we did our part, and Amanda and Donnie came up big too. They're always strong, and that really helped us out in this game."
The Cowboys led for the whole contest, but Chinle threatened to take the lead at the end of the third quarter. Camp Verde hit a lull offensively, but Amanda Showers sunk two three pointers when the Cowboys needed them most. Those shots went straight through the heart of the Chinle campaign; the Wildcats were surging and Showers' quick six points put them back on their heels.
Chinle's patient offensive approach to start the game turned frantic in desperation to end it. The Wildcats shot a poor percentage from the field initially because of great Camp Verde defense, but ultimately because they started taking low-percentage shots.
Before the game Camp Verde knew Chinle's full-court defense would challenge them, but they did pretty well against it.
One glaring stat for Camp Verde is 22 turnovers, but a lot of those were unforced in the half-court set. At this stage in the tournament, games are called by the letter of the law. Little ticky-tack traveling calls players normally get away with in the regular season don't fly in the postseason.
Tuesday's game was called tight, but consistent. The Cowboys will have to clean up the turnovers to give themselves a chance against their next opponent: the No.1 Sand Devils.
Page only has one power-point loss all season to (7) Winslow. It's not a coincidence Winslow made it to the final four too.
Winslow beat sharp shooting (2) Valley Christian Tuesday, and will play (14) Tuba City in the other semifinal Friday at Jobbing.com Arena in Glendale.
Tuba made it to the final four by beating (11) Window Rock in a state-tournament rivalry game Tuesday.
It's been three years since Camp Verde made it this far in the state tournament.
"We had a favorable bracket, but on top of that the kids are working hard and peaking at the right time," said Camp Verde head coach Mark Showers.
Showers said he knew if the Cowboys could break down the full-court press against Chinle, his team would win because they have such a clear advantage inside.
Page shoots a much better percentage from the outside than Chinle. On the season the Sand Devils average 5 three-point makes per game. The Cowboys have to leave everything on the floor and do anything they can to disrupt shots while staying out of foul trouble.
Page nearly missed the final four, escaping against Buckeye, 40-37. The Cowboys watched that game, so maybe they picked up on something Buckeye was doing to limit Page's scoring.
Only the four best teams in Division III still stand. Tuba City plays Winslow at 2:45 and Camp Verde plays Page at 6:15. Both games are at Jobing.com Arena.
Notes: Lila Hickey secured as many rebounds as the entire Chinle team Tuesday. Tori Mathews played hard-nosed defense, fouling out with 30 seconds left in the game and her team up 10 points.