(Tucson, AZ) In the final Girl’s game of the evening at the MLK Classic was the marquee game featuring not only rivals but the two best teams in Tucson under the lights of McKale Center.
The Sahuaro Cougars with their gaudy 19-1 record still had to prove themselves against the reloaded Sabino Sabercats who had gone 4-0 since all everything wing Kiya Dorroh became eligible the second semester.
Sabino began the year 1-4 but has done a 180° turnaround and now we’re ready to challenge the “standard” in Tucson girl’s basketball.
The game began just as expected with neither team giving an inch. Alyssa Brown from Sahuaro made the shot at the buzzer to end the first quarter to give the Cougars a 13-11 lead.
Back and forth until the final couple minutes before the half, the Sabercats pulled ahead on key baskets and the icing on the cake basket at the buzzer Kam’Ren Rhodes and sent them into the locker room 30-23.
At the 4:13 mark in the third quarter, Ilianna Armijo hit a three pointer to extend the Sabercat’s lead to 41-30.
Sabino maintained its lead on tough man to man defense because neither team was particularly sharp from the field. At the end of three quarters, the Sabercats had their biggest lead at 43-32.
Brown got the opening hoop of the final quarter on a nice turnaround layup to bring the lead in single digits. Sabino’s Kamryn Doty came right back after a free throw by Sahuaro to curl around the left side and lay it in, the lead now at ten.
With five minutes left to go, Sabino increased the lead to thirteen 50-37.
Kadie Healy made a huge block on Sahuaro forward Alyssa Botkin (the coach’s daughter) that didn’t translate into immediate points, but off the ensuing inbounds pass Doty drove in the lane and threw up a floater off the glass to make it 52-41 with 3:16 left.
With under three minutes left in the game, the Sabercats used the clock in their favor and forced the Cougars into a catch up position they’ve only experienced once this season. Sabino played keep away and proved to the city and themselves they’re the “Beasts of the East” with a convincing 62-50 win.