This one was decided by a matter of wills.
Prior to the girls Division III, Section III championship game at neutral Surprise Valley Vista on Saturday, Tana Kemmer, one of the leaders on Chandler Valley Christian, told her teammates losing was not an option.
True to her declaration, Kemmer, a 5-4 senior, proceeded to provide inspiration and production. She delivered five 3s and sparkled an up-tempo floor game to power Valley Christian to a 57-46 win over Fountain Hills.
“I told my teammates we had the will, passion and talent to get it done,” said Kemmer, who led the Trojans with 17 points. “We’re young but many players do not play like sophomores. I keep saying that everyone plays likes a senior.”
Led by Kemmer’s three 3s in the opening period, Valley Christian roared out to a 20-5 advantage after the first eight minutes of play. In the process, Fountain Hills turned the ball over four times to the Trojans' none, and the combination of Alyssa Braun and Kemmer grabbed seven of the eight Valley Christian rebounds.
“Tana is such a great leader for this team,” Valley Christian coach Scott Timmer said. “Her work ethic is amazing and she has great leadership skills. She’s in the gym several days a week in the summer and it shows.”
As quickly as the Trojans gained command, they lost momentum.
With a surge at the end of the first half and into the third period, Fountain Hills made a spirited run. Outscoring Valley Christian 17-2, the Falcons managed to cut the lead down to seven before the Trojans responded.
Powered by a three from Natalie Denk with 39 seconds left in the third period and Kemmer’s trey at the buzzer, the Trojans increased its advantage to 13, at 45-32, by the end of the third period.
“For the way they came back, you have to give Fountain Hills credit,” said Timmer. “Despite our fast start, we knew they would not go away.”
In gaining the sectional title, the three-ball clearly pushed Valley Christian to the awards stand. For the game, it hit seven threes, and crushed two Fountain Hills’ runs to get back in the game.
Kemmer’s 17 tied for the game lead with Fountain Hills’ Natalie Stillwell.
For the game, Valley Christian placed three players in double figures. Ashley Koch scored 15 and Kaitlyn Bellerson chipped in with 11 points.
FOUNTAIN HILLS (46) - Stilwell 7 3-4 17; Catabiano 3 0-1, 8: Yost 4 0-0 8; Schultz 1 0-0 3; Petkus 0 2-2 2.
VALLEY CHRISTIAN (57) - T. Kemmer 5 2-2 17: Koch 7 0-0 15; Bellerson 5 -12, 11; Denk 2 1-2; 6; M. Kemmer 2 0-0 4; Braun 1 0-0, 2; Schwartz 1 -0- 2.
Fountain Hills - 5 10 17 14 - 46
Valley Christian - 20 13 12 12 - 57
3- point goals. Fountain Hills - Schultz; Catabiano. Valley Christian - T. Kemmer 5; Koch; Denk.