Chino girls control Fountain Hills in Thursday's game
Even with Kallie Haddow, Chino Valley's ace in the hole, out of the lineup, the Lady Cougars' hand was tough to beat this past Thursday night.
Grace Tappe of the Fountain Hills Lady Falcons tried her best in flirting with quadruple-double numbers. But three double-doubles of a kind carried the Cougars in their 65-53 playoff victory at CVHS.
The magnificent play of Chino's trio of Stacy Haddow, Traci Melton and Shannon Harrison, each of whom captured double figures in points and rebounds, offset sidelined standout Kallie Haddow's absence, as the Lady Cougars rallied with a monster second half to clinch the West Region Tournament's semifinal game.
"If we can do that all the way through, we're going to be very tough to beat," said CVHS head coach Mike Haddow whose club, winners in 20 of their past 21 outings, moves to 25-3 on the season.
Saturday night's Region Championship when they hosted a Camp Verde team which topped River Valley for a fourth time this season Thursday night.
But though Chino Valley seemed to coast late thanks in large part to a 46-point second-half surge, things didn't come quite so easily early on against an upstart Falcons club that took a 25-22 lead into halftime.
Fountain Hills (10-18) used an 11-4 run to close out the first quarter in a 13-13 tie. They then forced the Cougars into seven second-quarter turnovers as the Falcons never trailed in the period, limiting Chino to just two second-quarter field goals.
"We came up here believing we could give them a good battle and I guess we wanted Chino to earn it," said Fountain head coach Dennis Hanson whose team battles River Valley for the third and fourth State seeds Saturdy night in Mohave.
"We thought we could try to earn it, but if we didn't get it then we were hoping we could give them enough of a battle. We weren't going to roll over and play dead, that's for sure."
Leading the Falcons' charge was Tappe, the 5'8" senior who showed flashes of brilliance.
Tappe finished the night with 27 points, 14 rebounds, nine steals and five assists before fouling out late in the fourth.
Her spirited play, though, was answered by the Chino threesome of Haddow, Melton and Harrison.
Haddow poured in nine points in a momentum-shifting third quarter as the Cougars improved their shooting to 7-of-14 in the period.
Haddow then opened the fourth with one of her game-high three 3-pointers while Melton added 13 second-half points as Chino widened its lead to 57-43 with 3:30 left in regulation.
"In the second half we came out, tried to get them to play our game, slowed down a little bit and executed," said Melton who notched 17 points, 14 rebounds, two assists and two steals. "They were playing man-to-man and we ran our offense and got good looks underneath and at the line we just finished."
At the line, in fact, is where the Lady Cougars were able to hold off a late Fountain Hills surge.
The Falcons nearly erased the 14-point deficit with a quick 8-0 run to close the gap to 57-53 with 1:38 left to play.
But forced to foul, they sent Chino to the line where the Cougars promptly made good on 10-of-12 in the final minute of regulation including a 7-for-8 string by Haddow.
Haddow proved the overall difference, soaring for 28 points and 15 boards, plus a clutch 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Harrison provided yet more spark in the paint behind 12 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks.
All three performances were key in compensating for the loss of Kallie Haddow, arguably the Cougars' most consistent player this season, who remains shelved.
Injuring her ACL last week kept her in street clothes Thursday night and likely will again in this Saturday's Region Championship.
"We're losing 16 points a game with Kallie going out," Mike Haddow said. "And one person doesn't have to make that up, but if we can get three or four to pick up four or five points, we'll be fine. We'll pick it up that way."
(Steve Stockmar is a reporter for The Daily Courier. Contact him at email@example.com.)