Gilbert Mesquite founds its way to the line with the game on the line.
The Wildcats made 10 of their 12 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter Saturday to stave off Tempe Corona del Sol 67-60 at Chandler High School to win the Red Division of the Nike Tournament of Champions II.
“Thank goodness for free throws,’’ said Mesquite coach Candice Gonzales.
The two teams had opened the girls basketball season against each other, a game Mesquite (14-2) won 57-43. Corona (5-9) cut the margin in half this time.
“I was pleased with the game,’’ Corona coach Pat Reed said. “I just wasn’t happy with the outcome.”
The Aztecs — who have battled injuries, illness and a tough early schedule — were in it until the final minutes.
Corona’s Jordyn Wentis made a basket to cut the gap to 51-49 with 3:32 left in the game. Melissa Brown answered for Mesquite on the next possession.
Corona committed two quick fouls, and the parade to the foul line was on.
For the game, Mesquite finished 18-for-24 from the foul line. Corona was 4-for-4.
Kelsey Misseldine scored a game-high 17 for Mesquite. Maylinn Smith added 16 and Brown finished with 13.
Wentis and Kim Pestalozzi scored 16 each for the Aztecs. Ali Beaird added 10.
The Wildcats led 27-21 at the half, but the two teams opened it up in the third period. Beaird made a basket underneath to make it 35-32 with 4:10 left in the third.
Misseldine hit a 3-pointer, was fouled and made the free throw for a four-point play. Brown and Kaneesha Lee then added baskets to give Mesquite a 43-32 lead, and it looked like the Wildcats were going to pull away.
Corona then called a timeout.
“I told them the third quarter had been when we’ve been making our surges,’’ Reed said. “I told them this was the time to surge.”
The Aztecs responded with a 10-0 run to make it 43-42.
Misseldine was fouled with 8.7 seconds left and made two free throws to give Mesquite a 45-42 lead after three quarters.
Mesquite led 16-9 before the Aztecs went on a 10-0 run in the first two minutes of the second period.
Pestalozzi and Wentis each hit a 3-pointer and a field goal to give Corona a 19-16 lead.
Smith tied it with a three-point play, and Mesquite scored nine successive points.