PHOENIX — Sabino was denied the chance to win a state title last year but there was no stopping the Sabercats this season.
Top-seeded Sabino (28-4) defeated Page 42-35 in the 3A state championship game at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum tonight. It is the Sabercats’ second state title — their first since 1990, when they beat Nogales under coach John Bart.
Ella Berg, Kiya Dorroh and Kamryn Doty made 11 free throws in the last minute to preserve Sabino’s lead. Doty made 9 of 12 free throws in the game, including a 6-of-6 performance in the last minute.
Dorroh had nine points and a career-high 15 rebounds while Doty finished with 15 points and six rebounds. Lauryn Manion, a junior guard who transferred to Sabino before this school year from Georgia, finished with 12 points.
The Sabercats were removed from postseason play right before last season’s state semifinals when the AIA ruled a player was ineligible for most of the season.
.@SabinoGirlsHoop coach Jaamal Rhodes on winning the state title after disqualified last season by the AIA for allegedly using an ineligible player. Rhodes and and assistant coach Jeremy Daniels helped the Sabercats get through alot of adversity this year to win the title. pic.twitter.com/J00PFeUxKw
.@SabinoGirlsHoop coach Jaamal Rhodes with trio of Division I talents — @rhodes_kam4 (his daughter who is itching to return after missing most of this season with a knee injury), @kamryn_doty and @dorroh_kiya. Sabercats strong favorite to repeat as 3A champs with them next year. pic.twitter.com/F25EM7Yoq8
The Sabercats made it a mission since the end of last season, starting with their play together early last summer, to win the championship they believed they deserved last season.
They also had to overcome adversity with sophomore point guard Kam’Ren Rhodes — daughter of head coach Jaamal Rhodes and one of the best at her position in the state — missing most of the season following a knee surgery in December.
Another starter, guard Kadie Healy, missed many games with a concussion. Healy came back strong toward the end of the season and and finished with six rebounds and three steals tonight.
Tanque Verde transfer Ella Berg, challenging Doty for Sabino’s scrappiest p;layer, also had six rebounds and two steals.
“I had so much motivation after what happened last year,” said Dorroh, a junior guard/forward Division I prospect since her freshman season. “Oh my gosh, it feels so good. I’m just so incredibly happy. My team’s so poised. We handled the situation so perfectly. I’m just so proud of everyone.”
Dorroh made her mark sacrificing her body going after loose balls, working for positioning for her rebounds. Showing her versatility, she also brought the ball up the court more after Sabino committed 10 turnovers with only one assist in the first half.
Doty, assessed a technical foul in the first half, showed her resolve in the second half by converting the significant free throws. She never stopped her aggressive style, also on the floor a lot diving for loose balls. She finished with six rebounds, all on the defensive end keeping Page from scoring opportunities
“We wanted to give it our all and lay it all on the floor and that’s exactly what we did,” Doty said.
Doty has carried on more of a ball-handling responsibility with Kam’Ren Rhodes out. Rhodes’ return next year will allow Sabino’s offensive flow to be more difficult to stop with Doty and Dorroh on the wing. Without a true center, Sabino’s offense is based on drives to the basket to pass out to the perimeter.
The Sabercats to try corral rebounds with their quickness to the ball. They outrebounded Page 36-27 with 25 defensive boards.
Lauryn Manion helped set the tone in the first half for @SabinoGirlsHoop against Page tonight by being one of the top scorers. She talks about how her game has improved playing Kiya Dorroh, Kamryn Doty and Kam’Ren Rhodes. pic.twitter.com/teMByvHwVa
“Knowing (Rhodes), she’s going to come back better and stronger,” Doty said of Rhodes. “Knowing that she is going to more healthy and everybody has more experience … we know how it is here (in the title game). It’s going to be another goal for next year.”
Jaamal Rhodes also mentioned his daughter will be better next year. With Sabino’s core of his daughter, Dorroh, Doty, Manion and Healy returning, the Sabercats will be the favorite again to win the state title.
“What (Kam’Ren Rhodes) was good at, the knee injury will not affect her like that,” Jaamal Rhodes said. “Her IQ is way through the roof. So we have to take that into account. Now she’s seeing it from a coach’s standpoint and that will probably pay dividends when she gets to play again.”
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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.