EL MIRAGE — On the eve of his team’s 4A state play-in game Feb. 6, Bradshaw Mountain girls basketball coach Rick Haltom said his Bears had been a good road team this season.
A night later, Haltom’s words proved prophetic to open the postseason.
Bradshaw Mountain qualified for the state tournament for the second time in the past three seasons on Thursday, Feb. 7, coming from behind to defeat Dysart, 40-30, in the single-elimination play-in round.
Center Delanie Clark scored a team-high 16 points, and forward Rylee Bundrick added nine points, as the Bears are back in the state tournament for the first time since 2017.
“The girls played extremely hard, and we are so excited to be moving on to the Sweet 16,” Haltom said. “We played a very good and scrappy team. I am so proud of these girls.”
The Bears trailed, 18-12, at halftime after struggling mightily from the floor in the second quarter. But Bradshaw Mountain rallied, outscoring the Demons, 12-5, in the third quarter to grab a slim 24-23 lead. Then, in the fourth period, Clark scored eight points within the first 4-1/2 minutes to provide the visitors with a seven-point cushion, 34-27.
Bradshaw Mountain finished the game by outscoring the Demons, 28-12, in a dominating second-half performance.
With the win, the Bears improved their record to 12-7 in power-point games. Dysart, which captured the Black Canyon region title with a 9-1 record, finished its season at 9-10.
Dysart ended the regular season rated 32nd in the final 4A rankings, but the Demons vaulted to the No. 16 seed by winning their region. The Demons had won eight of their last nine games before Thursday, while Bradshaw Mountain had won five of its last nine.
Bradshaw Mountain advances to the 4A state tournament’s first round at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13.
The Bears will hit the road again, as each of the eight winners from the play-in round are reseeded into the 16-team state bracket. Each of the Top 8 seeds received automatic state berths.
The state bracket will be released at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, on azpreps365.com.
Buckeye, Desert Edge, Flagstaff, Mesquite, Sahuaro, Salpointe Catholic, Seton Catholic and Shadow Mountain are the automatic girls’ qualifiers.
Doug Cook is a reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at email@example.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.