Tanque Verde suited only eight players and Sabino nine in one of the best matchups Tucson will offer this season in girls high school hoops last night at Sabino.
Both are at the 3A level in terms of enrollment — Tanque Verde near 600 and Sabino at about 900. The Hawks have a small pool to draw from as does the Sabercats, who were without four regulars because of injuries and a death in the family.
The war of attrition between two of the top teams in the state was back-and-forth all game with neither team leading by more than seven points. Sabino (19-4, 5-0 in the 3A South) beat the Hawks (19-5, 4-1) in overtime, 54-50, behind 26 points from Division I prospect Kiya Dorroh, formerly of Tanque Verde.
Another former Tanque Verde standout, senior Ella Berg, had nine points for the Sabercats.
.@dorroh_kiya had 25 points to lead @SabinoGirlsHoop to the OT win over Tanque Verde. Her intensity level and that of teammate @kamryn_doty impacted their teammates. Sabino, winning despite significant injuries, is 19-4 overall and 5-0 in the 3A South. pic.twitter.com/VNZdIk20ng
Dorroh used her past with Tanque Verde, and what she views was a contentious break after her transfer from there, to ignite her in addition to her usual competitive fire.
“Usually I don’t show my emotions that much because it can result on me playing bad,” Dorroh said. “I’ve gone on the mindset that nothing’s really going to stop me unless I allow it to. This team (Tanque Verde), there’s a lot of tension, and I wanted to make sure they knew I was there, for sure.”
The Hawks have a core of five seniors and a sophomore guard in Emma Wall you will be known as one of the top talents in Southern Arizona in the next couple of years.
Keep an eye out for @tvhsgbb 5-foot-10 sophomore guard Emma Wall, who had 20 points for the Hawks in their OT loss to Sabino. One of Southern Arizona's top young players already with two more seasons left in high school. pic.twitter.com/2GG5Ay4ulB
After scoring totals were readjusted following from the official book after the game, it was determined that Wall matched Dorroh’s 26 points — a career-high for her.
“I love playing against high-level athletes,” Wall said. “It’s so much fun playing and always putting in hard work and going as hard as I can against people. Just love it.
“(Playing against Dorroh) helps you improve your game. I look up to her as a player. I just want to push to be as good as I can and compete against her really helps me with that. Just competing and staying in the game really pushes me to better my game.”
After the game, Wall wore a shirt of one of Tanque Verde’s slogans, “Heart Over Hype.” The Hawks displayed that, taking Sabino to the limit despite one of their senior captains, Kailee Cullinan fouling out with nearly 4 minutes remaining in regulation.
“Our kids stepped up tonight — so did theirs — but if you look at paper, who’s supposed to be the better team, who has the (college scholarship) offers … if you look who has less kids, whose kids have transferred, we should not have been in that game, in the first quarter,” Tanque Verde coach Michael Edwards said. “They should have done to us what they’ve done everybody else, which is up by 20 in the first three minutes because of the press. Our kids we practiced and worked on it. They played really well. I’ve got to give all my credit to my kids.
“This game gives us good momentum to finish region play and play Sabino again in the last (regular season) game on the 14th (of February) and then going to state to play whoever we play. This gives us a huge amount of confidence to our game. And it should for them, too.”
Sabino was without one of the top players in the state — sophomore point guard Kam’Ren Rhodes — who was lost for the season last month with a knee injury. She is rehabilitating the knee and is not expected to be able to return to the court until mid-summer.
Sophomore wing player Kadie Healy and junior forward Riley Shepherd continue to be out with concussions. Senior guard Rosabella Duran did not play last night because of the recent death of her grandmother.
Sabino coach Jaamal Rhodes and assistant Jeremy Daniels are getting the most out of Dorroh, Berg, Kamryn Doty (another Division I prospect running the point guard position) , junior forward Lauryn Manion and freshmen Amelie Buffill-Gutierrez and Aaliyah Linn.
“Having so many people out, you have to have these other people get some experience because you’re going to need them down the stretch,” said Rhodes, who was critical of his team’s slow start last night. “You don’t know what’s going to happen from now until the state playoffs.
“The blueprint is out. People need to make plays. Defensively, we have to stay sound, not get overzealous and get into early foul trouble. We have to make shots and understand you can’t hit a home run every swing. It’s a bunch of singles — its a bunch of singles — and then the game will be played the way you want it to be played.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.