Kristen Johannsen summed up Valley Christian’s triumph Saturday night early in the fourth quarter when she jumped as high as she could and dislodged the ball stuck between the rim and backboard at the Trojans’ end of the floor so play could resume.
It was one of many things Valley Christian executed well, and she even took a bow if not for herself but for her teammates’ performance.
Pulling away in the latter half of the second period, the top-seeded Trojans excelled in every facet and eliminated eighth-seeded Scottsdale Christian Academy, 47-19, in a quarterfinal game of the 2A state girls basketball tournament at Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor High School.
It was the third time this season and second time in 11 days Valley Christian came away the victor against their 2A Central Region rivals. Valley Christian (28-0) advances to the semifinals where it meets Arizona Lutheran or San Carlos.
Game time will be 4 p.m. Friday at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. Arizona Lutheran defeated San Carlos 46-38 to earn its semifinal spot. Scottsdale Christian ended its season 22-8.
“We worked hard on our defense this week, and the girls executed it well,” Valley Christian coach Scott Timmer said. “Our defense triggers our offense, so when we’re playing defense good things happen for us.”
Valley Christian didn’t shoot lights out, but they did open with a bang. Guard Ashton Wolf and Johannsen launced the first two shots of the game, respectively, for the Trojans, and both sank 3-pointers. The rest of the quarter Valley Christian was 0-for-11 from the field, but made 4 of 4 free throws to lead 10-6 after the first eight minutes. Valley Christian shot 32 percent from the field through three quarters.
The only difficulty Valley had on defense was stopping SCA’s Hillary Hellestrae, who drove around defenders for a couple easy layups in the opening period. Hellestrae (team-high seven points), however, didn’t score the rest of the first half due in part to defense and picking up her third foul halfway through the second period. She went to the bench at that point for the remainder of the half.
Just before Hellestrae exited with her third foul, Valley Christian scored four points in five seconds to double its lead from 10-6 to 14-6. A short jumper by Stacey Jones (12 points) and steal by Ashton Wolf who fed Quinn Robertson for a layup did the damage.
By halftime the lead ballooned to 26-10. SCA made no run in the second half. The lead was 33-13 after three periods.
Jones added eight rebounds to go with her 10 points. Wolf keyed the defense with eight steals, most in the first half when Valley Christian broke the game open.