Twice Sahuaro fell behind by eight points to Salpointe Catholic in the championship game of the Boyd Baker Tipoff Classic last night.
They came back both times, capped by an 18-3 run to end the game, outlasting the Lancers 46-39 at the Dick McConnell Gymnasium at Sahuaro.
Sahuaro (4-0 after winning all four games in the season-opening tournament) was led by sophomore forward Alyssa Brown, the tournament MVP who had 16 points, 12 rebounds and five steals.
“I’m very proud of my girls for keeping their composure in such a rough game,” Brown said. “It was stressful. There was a lot of tension but we were able to come together as a team and pull through.”
Salpointe sophomore guard Jaya Nelson was the Lancers’ lone scorer in double figures with 15 points.
Brown and Nelson, two emerging Division I prospects in Tucson, were part of the all-tournament team along with Sahuaro’s Lucky Franke, Sunnyside’s Angelina Alcantar, Rio Rico’s Luisayde Chavez, Rincon’s Laraya Rocha, Pusch Ridge’s Angel Addleman, CDO’s Tianna Carter, Marana’s Bri Sealy and Empire’s Mackenzie Elkins.
Franke helped fuel Sahuaro’s comeback in the second half after Salpointe took a 36-28 lead late in the third quarter. She scored nine of her 11 points in the second half, including a 3-pointer with 6:30 left in the fourth quarter that gave the Cougars a 39-36 lead.
Franke, a sophomore guard, said that winning the championship to start the season “makes us work even harder and it makes us realize what potential we have as a team.”
A 3-pointer by junior guard Milaya Leon with 56 seconds left put Sahuaro up 42-39. Leon made two free throws with 31.2 seconds left gave the Cougars a five-point cushion.
Sahuaro coach Steve Botkin, who earned his 500th career win in the semifinal victory over Rincon yesterday, said his team came out in the second half against Salpointe with a different mentality.
“They didn’t get down on each other,” Botkin said. “They’re pretty tired, pretty banged up (playing four games in two days). … Just to keep their composure and to win that game will pay huge dividends down the stretch.”
Sahuaro next hosts Tanque Verde on Tuesday while Salpointe (3-1) travels to play Rio Rico on Tuesday.