Pirates go all out against Henley
If Tuesday night was going to be the final girls basketball game of the season for Phoenix, the Pirates were going to go down firing in their home gym.
Poised on the outside of the bubble when it comes to which teams advance to the Class 4A state playoffs, Phoenix put a scare into visiting Henley for a while but simply couldn’t finish the job in a 52-42 Skyline Conference setback.
Sophomore point guard Anabell Delgado scored 17 points and junior forward Morgan James added 15 points, 10 rebounds and three steals for Phoenix (8-15, 2-8 Skyline).
Senior guard Ryane Mattox scored 18 and Annie Campos added 12 to lead Henley (14-9, 7-3), which pulled into a second-place tie with Hidden Valley in the final conference standings.
“In terms of our game plan and how we wanted to approach the game,” said Pirates head coach Chelsea Winner, “I was really happy with the way we played. It was one of those games that didn’t end like we wanted but the girls played their hearts out tonight.”
Phoenix entered the contest No. 25 in the 4A state power rankings, knowing that 24 teams in all will advance at least to the play-in round.
“Even if this is the last game of the season,” said Winner, “I’m really happy with what we did tonight. Knowing that we have no seniors, next year is going to be awesome. We’re really looking forward to what we’re going to be able to do next year after what we’ve been building through this season.”
Phoenix trailed only 13-9 after one quarter and it was 16-14 in the second when Henley went on a quick 7-0 run — highlighted by 3-pointers from Mattox and Campos — to gain some key separation.
Delgado was instrumental in keeping the Pirates in contention early, scoring 12 of her team’s 18 first-half points.
“She definitely was huge for us,” said Winner. “She was the only one that was getting any good looks. She was attacking and driving and had a couple 3-pointers that were huge in the first half.”
Henley gradually extended its nine-point halftime advantage and hit a high-water mark, up 39-25 heading to the final quarter.
In the fourth, however, Phoenix used the advantage of being in the bonus to slow the game down and chip away at its deficit — also forcing the Hornets to back off a little of the pressure they had been applying for the first three quarters.
James scored four straight points for the Pirates to make it 44-34 with plenty of time to play, and it was back to single digits for the first time since the beginning of the third quarter when Delgado went 1-for-2 from the foul line with three minutes to go.
Henley had a response, however, with Mattox scoring on a pair of drives and Campos adding another to cap a 7-2 run that ultimately sealed the victory for the Hornets.
“We definitely got ourselves back in the game towards the end there,” said Winner, “but just couldn’t make those defensive stops. They had a couple drives that we just didn’t get in front of and stop and they were able to push their lead back up to 14. We just couldn’t quite get over that hump.”
Kyla Potratz, a junior guard, added six points and five rebounds for the Pirates, who took Winner’s advice to heart and did not hesitate if they felt they had an opening against Henley.
“I just told them to come out and play super aggressive,” said Winner. “If there’s an open shot, you take it. If there’s an open lane, you drive. I think every single one of those girls really buckled down and went after it and they gave us a chance.”
“Morgan and Anabell are obviously our main scorers,” added the coach, “but girls like Kyla and Ruby (Rector), they took more shots and had more good looks than I’ve ever seen them take and I’m not even mad at it one bit. It was fun to watch them actually step up and go after it a little bit.”
HENLEY (52): Martino 0, Balbin 0, Mattox 18, Mauch 0, Poe 0, Campos 12, Sharp 6, Harper 7, Northcutt 9, Lee 0. Totals: 20 9-18 52.
PHOENIX (42): James 15, Nolan 2, Potratz 6, Delgado 17, Rector 2, Mohamud 0. Totals: 14 12-19 42.
3-point goals — Henley 3 (Mattox 2, Campos 1), Phoenix 2 (Delgado 2).