On Monday afternoon it was Phoenix Desert Vista's post play that paved the way for a semifinal victory in the Nike Tournament of Champions I. On Tuesday afternoon the Thunder used the quickness and penetration of Austen Harris to carve up Campolindo, Calif., 65-55, to win the championship of the Blue Division bracket at Chandler Hamilton High School.
"That's part of being a team," Desert Vista coach Rachel Proudfoot said. "One night it may be your night, the next it might not be. This was a great game for Austen." Desert Vista remained unbeaten at 11-0 and dealt Campolindo (8-1) its first loss.
Harris, a senior guard, netted a career-high 27 points. The Thunder's decided edge in quickness in the matchup was underscored by Harris, who penetrated at will and most of the time made the right decision on whether to dish to a teammate or serve up a layup to the Cougars. Harris scored 16 points in the first half.
Desert Vista's defense also was solid in neutralizing Campolindo's ability to score from the perimeter. Campolindo made three 3-point field goals late in the first period to erase a six-point Desert Vista lead. Campolindo ended up leading 17-14 after the period with 3-pointers doing the trick. Campolindo made one 3-point field goal the rest of the game, that coming with just more than a minute left and the outcome already decided.
"We knew going into the game they were great shooters," Proudfoot said. "We wanted to make them drive drive. We knew we were quicker than they were so we ran our dribble-drive offense."
It took Desert Vista awhile to catch Campolindo in the second period. The Cougars lead 25-20 with 3 1/2 minutes left before halftime. But a 16-2 run to end the period led by Harris' and penetration baskets by Rahnae Spooner, Simone Westbrook and Kylie Butler put the Thunder in front to stay and by nine points at intermission.
Campolindo made a final push in the fourth period after making up only a point of the nine-point deficit. A 6-0 run to open the fourth sliced Desert Vista's lead to 46-44. But Harris sank two free throws and drove for the final of five layups on the day to key a 13-4 answer that turned back the Cougars.
"This game was an affirmation of what we're preaching," Proudfoot said. "It takes a team effort, and this was a team effort."
Westbrook added 12 points and Spooner tossed in nine. Desert Vista resumes play on Monday when it competes in the Nike Tournament of Champions II. That tournament continues through Dec. 30.
In other bracket final games played on Tuesday at Hamilton High, Agoura, Calif., edged Bishop Alemany, Calif., 62-61, in the John Anderson Division; Laces, Harvard Westlake, Calif., knocked off Canyon Spring, Calif., 63-49, to win the Gray Division; Laces, Calif., defeated El Camino Real, Calif., 58-51, in overtime; Oregon City, Ore., played Highlands Ranch, Colo., in the Mike Desper Division title game and St. Mary's, Calif., plays Mater Dei, Calif., in the elite Joe Smith Division title game.