Saguaro became the latest upset-victim of No. 5 Phoenix South Mountain, as the Jaguars beat the Sabercats, 66-42, in the championship game of the Division II, Section III tournament Saturday night
Saguaro still earned the No. 2 seed in the Div. II state tournament and a first-round bye. The Sabercats will host the Dysart-Mohave winner in the second round Friday night. South Mountain earned the No. 5 seed and a bye, and host the Phoenix Thunderbird-Phoenix Sunnyslope winner Friday night.
South Mountain freshman Krisynthia Sampson stole the show and dominated Saguaro inside. Sampson finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
The Jaguars, fresh off a 46-40, win over No. 1 Seton Catholic, knocked off the Sabercats with transition offense and physical play inside. The few times that Sampson was unable to finish inside, one of her teammates was there for the offensive rebound.
It didn't help that Saguaro had one of its worst shooting nights of the season, both from the floor and at the free throw line.
"We couldn't make shots," Saguaro coach Chris Young said. "I have not seen us shoot that bad in a really long time."
The Sabercats (25-5) made an 8-0 run spanning the end of the first quarter until the beginning of the second quarter, to close to a one point deficit, but that was as close as Saguaro would get.
The Jaguars (17-4) were solid defensively, but the Sabercats had a lot of good looks at baskets both from the outside and at the rim. South Mountain led for most of the first half and 29-20 at halftime.
The Jaguars went on a 9-0 run towards the end of the second half and were never threatened the rest of the game. Sampson had help from senior point guard Leslie Tademy. The Jaguars' up-tempo game hurt the Sabercats in the second half and Tademy led the charge. She finished with 16 points and nine assists as the Jaguars turned Saguaro turnovers into points, and broke the Sabercats' half-court press with regularity for easy layups.
"We fell right into their style of play and didn't stick to our game plan," Young said. "I'm glad this happened to us today and not next week."
Nicole Safer led the Sabercats with 16 points and Rikki Silver added 13.
The Jaguars played as the lower seed in every game of the tournament, and according to coach Gregg Byron, are peaking at the right time.
"We have one of the quickest guards in the state (Tademy) and Sampson is so clutch inside," he said. "We are moving in the right direction and it makes me so happy to see my girls play the way they are capable of playing."