Salpointe girls win first state championship with victory over Flagstaff

Salpointe Catholic is the 4A state champions (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

PHOENIX — Salpointe Catholic earned its first girls basketball state championship with a 65-48 victory over Flagstaff in the 4A state title game Monday night at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Lancers (24-4) broke through with their first win after losing two times previously in the state championship game, including last year to Seton Catholic in Joseph Luevano’s first season as head coach.

Salpointe also came up short in 2002-03 when Pete Fajardo’s team lost to a Gilbert Highland team that finished 35-0.

The turning point for the Lancers against Flagstaff was a 21-1 run in the second half in which they turned a 12-9 deficit into a 30-13 halftime lead.

In that pivotal run, freshman Taliyah Henderson had seven of her eight points in the first half and seniors Bria Medina and Kylee Callahan each had four points.

Tessa Hastings, another senior leader, ended the half with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Salpointe overcame a first quarter in which it trailed 9-7 after committing eight turnovers. The Lancers had only four in the second quarter and outscored the Eagles 23-4 in the quarter.

Flagstaff (29-3) cut Salpointe’s lead to 40-30 on a 3-pointer by Gracelyn Nez with 3:00 left in the the third quarter, but the Eagles came no closer.

Medina and Callahan helped stave off the threat and led the Eagles 46-33 going into the fourth quarter.

Henderson, who is already getting recruiting attention from Division I programs, finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds.

Hannah Williams, another promising freshman frontcourt player, had nine rebounds.

The Lancers, who finished the season winning their last 14 games, outrebounded Flagstaff 52-24 and had 17 second-chance points. That offset their 23 turnovers and 1-of-8 shooting from 3-point range.

Callahan led the Lancers with 19 points and had seven rebounds. Medina finished with 16 points and six assists.

Nez lead the Eagles with 22 points and 10 rebounds.


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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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