Mesa Mountain View (8-4) entered Tuesday night's match-up with Red Mountain High School (8-3) as a banged up team, looking to pick up the pieces from a season that has seen numerous injuries already for head coach Henry Bribiescas.
The Toros have seen injuries to several key players to this year's team; injuries that have slowed this year's talented team down a bit but not fully. Three of the four losses suffered by the Toros this season came at the hands of out-of-state competition in the La Jolla Sweet Sixteen Tournament in California. Mountain View, thought to be a team that could go undefeated amidst Arizona competition this season, lost skilled 6-foot-2 senior post Jordan Jensen (Iowa State signee) in the summer to a torn ACL injury. If that wasn't already enough, the Toros then lost the services of their senior point guard Rene Coggins to an injury as well. While Coggins is scheduled to return to action in mid-January, many young players have filled in for Mountain View this season. The team is beginning to pick up momentum as they head into action later this week in the coveted Nike Tournament of Champions (Dec. 20-22).
Led by one of the most talented backcourts in the state, comprised of quick 5-foot-5 junior guard Cherokee Davis, and superb sophomore prospects, 5-foot-9 guard Sabrina Haines and 5-foot-10 guard Armani Hawkins, Mountain View would host a Red Mountain team that would be looking to get back in the win column, after a big loss at the hands of Buena HS in their last contest.
"Our young players have had to step up this season," said Mountain View head coach Henry Bribiescas. "It will make us a better team in the long run."
Mountain View would take a comfortable 8-point lead into halftime on their home floor, after a 20-12 lead after the first half of play.
Red Mountain would close the gap quickly in the second half, after four free throws to start the third period. After 2 free-throws from 5-foot-7 senior guard Erica Vasquez, Red Mountain would pull within 4 points of Mountain View, but that would be the closest they would get for the remainder of the game.
After back-to-back transition layups from Cherokee Davis, Mountain View would take a 24-16 lead with 4:20 left to play in the third period. From there, Mesa Mountain View would go on a nice run, outscoring Red Mountain 12-5 over the next 3 minutes of action - led by the play of Cherokee Davis, Sabrina Haines and Armani Hawkins. Davis would score 8 of the 12 points on the run.
Mountain View would lead 32-21 before a timeout by Red Mountain head coach Martin Appel.
Red Mountain would fight back late in the third period - closing the gap, until an offensive rebound and put-back at the buzzer by Mountain View's 5-foot-9 sophomore forward Rachel McKay - giving the Toros a 37-28 lead at the end of three quarters.
In the fourth period, Mountain View would turn up the heat and outscore Red Mountain 18 to 6 in the final period to blow the game wide open. Another layup in transition by Cherokee Davis, a nice three-pointer from Sabrina Haines and a mid-range fade-away jumper over a defender by Armani Hawkins would highlight the final period for the Toros, as they would cruise to a big 55-34 home victory.
Mountain View would be led by by the talented guard trio, as Cherokee Davis would finish with a game-high 16 points, and Hawkins and Haines would finish with 14 and 11 points respectfully in the win.
"We were relying too much on the 3-point shot early," said Henry Bribiescas after the game. "You let any team hang around and they can hurt you."
This Mesa Mountain View team, while losing talented post player Jordan Jensen for the season, will still be very tough to beat down the stretch this high school season, as they have one of the best guard tandems in the state and a very well-coached team. The combination of Armani Hawkins and Sabrina Haines is the best young duo the state offers. While it will be very interesting to see just how far this team goes this high school season, they will dominate the state the next two years with a 2015 class of prospects that are worth the price of admission.