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Wed, Dec. 11

Cougars out<BR>Fourth quarter dooms<BR>Chino Valley girls at State

FLAGSTAFF – As if in unison, the ominous forces that surrounded the Chino Valley girls' basketball team Friday night suffocated the club at the wrong time in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A tournament.

North Region No. 3-seed Tuba City, which trailed the Lady Cougars by six points at the end of the third quarter, outscored West No. 1-seed Chino 14-3 in a mind-boggling fourth en route to a stunning 46-41 victory at Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff.

"I told my seniors, 'This is it right here, the fourth quarter. Don't let them take this from you,'" said Tuba City coach Pete Butler, whose squad trailed by 10 points with 3:35 left in the third. "They clamped down and I looked in their eyes, and it's like, 'It's not going to happen.'"

Playing in front of thousands of their own screaming fans, the Warriors eliminated Chino Valley from the tourney, handing the Lady Cougars program an Elite 8 exit for the fourth time in six tries under coach Mike Haddow.

Chino swing Stacy Haddow registered a double-double, scoring a game-high 22 points and 13 rebounds, though she was held scoreless in the pivotal final quarter.

"We got sluggish and we stopped executing and running our offense," said Stacy Haddow, who will play for Division II Grand Canyon University next season. "But we played our hardest and we were in the best shape we could possibly be to come into this game."

No other Lady Cougar scored in double figures, although forward Yvonne Zyirek had eight points and eight boards. Point guard Casey Denike finished with four points and three rebounds.

"It just seemed like their intensity level was a lot higher," Denike said of Tuba. "They came out and wanted it a lot more."

Chino out-rebounded Tuba City 35-22, but committed 26 turnovers that ultimately cost the Lady Cougars an opportunity to advance to the Final Four.

Instead, Tuba City moves on to the semifinals next Friday at 10 a.m. at the Glendale Arena, where it will battle the winner of the Winslow-Snowflake quarterfinal.

On Friday, the Warriors' stifling man-to-man, full-court pressure defense swarmed to the ball in the final period, limiting CV to just one field goal in a span of 7-plus minutes.

"I was pleased, except for our offensive execution down the stretch," Mike Haddow said. "If we would've just kept executing in the fourth quarter, we would've been fine. ...There was a lot of pressure on the ball handler."

Chino starting post player Emma Lewis' rebound and put-back with 27 seconds left in regulation ended a long scoring drought that extended back to the 1 1/2-minute mark of the third.

The Warriors pieced together a 16-0 run over the stretch after Chino Valley had outscored them 20-12 in a well-played third period.

"Tuba did a nice job defensively," Mike Haddow said. "They really put a little more pressure on us than they had been in the half-court defense, and we made a few mistakes. ...They really made us handle it 94 feet, and that's the first team that we've played this season that's done that."

Chino's 2-3 zone defense stifled the typically hot-shooting Warriors in the paint and from the ever-dangerous perimeter for most of the evening.

But Tuba City starting guard Chantal Little, who was limited to just 3 points in the first half, buried a trio of 3-pointers toward the end of the third that handed the Warriors all of the momentum they needed to mount a fourth-period comeback.

"Our game plan all night was to make them shoot the ball over the top of us - and it worked well for about 28 minutes," Mike Haddow said. "Then they knocked down some threes, and really hit the shots when they had to have them."

Little and Jessica Tsingine scored 15 and 10 points, respectively, in pacing Tuba City to the State playoffs' next round.

"I can't say enough for the girls that finished the game and really wanted it and dug down deep," Butler said. "I told them, 'Now we know how big your hearts are.' "

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