Tyler Dumas had a speech going in his head.
It was, as he alluded to after his girl's basketball team came back late in the fourth quarter, then beat Goodyear Millennium, 68-62 in overtime of the Division I quarterfinals on Tuesday night, an apology.
He felt uncomfortable amping up the defensive pressure against Millennium, worried about giving up easy baskets or open 3-pointers to the Tigers. The No. 1-seeded Mustangs stayed close to the vest defensively through three quarters, but Millennium had the lead.
He relented midway through the third, and the Mustangs' defensive pressure slowed down Millennium enough to help Dobson forge a tie with 14 seconds left in regulation, then dominated overtime behind his senior guards.
The win sends Dobson against No. 5 Desert Vista in the semifinals on Friday at Wells Fargo Arena.
That's in-part because the apologetic speech was never uttered.
"They bailed me out," he said with a grin as his victorious Mustangs left the locker room.
When in doubt, seek the seniors, and Dobson (30-2) did just that. Miyah Leith took a hit in her leg from an opposing knee and struggled to move by the end, but she still scored 16 of her 20 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. Fellow senior Tori Lloyd had four points through regulation, but scored five more in overtime. Junior Monay Mariscal scored 20 points inside for the Mustangs.
Leith scored on three drives to the basket in the fourth quarter, the last of which tied the game at 57-57 with 12 seconds left to cap Dobson's 22-point fourth quarter.
"It took awhile and we got our energy up but finally got going," Dumas said.
For three quarters, Millennium (27-4) controlled the game while Dobson struggled with turnovers and containing the athletic Quynne Higgins (14 points) and Raina Perez (20 points). The Tigers, who had only two seniors on the roster, led nearly all of the 32 minutes of regulation.
But by overtime, the Mustangs returned the favor as they scored the first seven points of the extra session. The Mustangs made 13 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter and overtime combined.
"We had more energy and then started to get them in foul trouble," Dumas said.
Having avoided one dread end-of-season speech-turned-apology, the Mustangs are taking an underdog approach against No. 5 Desert Vista, a Thunder team many consider the best in the state with their depth, size and athleticism. The Thunder won the previous meeting during the Nike Tournament of Champions in late December.
"I think we relish the role, the pressure flips," Dumas said. "We haven't been one as a top team and No. 1 (seed). I think we'll be loose and playing with 'house money."'
No. 1 Dobson 68, No. 8 Millennium 62 (OT)
Mill 10 18 12 17 5 -- 62
Dob 12 14 9 22 11 -- 68
Millennium: Quynne Huggins 14, Raina Perez 20, Passionate Amukamara 16, Amma Fordjour 3, Adriana Zelaya 1, Kim Wimbish 2, Waiti Franklin 6
Dobson: Miyah Leith 20, Dyesha Stahley 8, Caree Bradford 3, Nakayla Griffin 2, Tori Lloyd 9, Kayla Clark 4, Monay Mariscal 20, Sara Nichols 2
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune assistant managing editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or (480) 898-6576.