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Lady Sand Devils eliminated from state tourney

Modified: Thursday, Feb 27th, 2014

Freshman Natasha Henry led the Sand Devils with nine points.
The Lady Sand Devils had to be perfect to beat perfect.

They werenít and they didnít.

Page High lost 52-38 to undefeated Valley Christian Feb. 26 in the quarterfinal of the Arizona girls Division III basketball tournament. The game was played at Timís Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.

The Trojans (32-0) play Window Rock Feb. 28 in the semifinals at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale. The other game matches Estrella Foothills and Fountain Hills. The winners play March 1 for the state championship.

Valley Christian imposed its will on the Sand Devils in the first quarter, taking a 15-5 lead thanks to a solid all-around game, including full-court pressure defense that produced takeaways and points. The Devils (21-9) also missed open shots throughout the game.

In addition, the ferocious defense that Page used to dominate San Carlos High in the second round of the tournament didnít get any traction against Valley Christian until late in the game.

It was more of the same the second quarter as the Trojans pushed to a 20-point lead.

Pageís Ashley Dempsey made a nifty move to get free at the rim but was couldnít convert. Valley Christian grabbed the rebound and Natalie Denk hit a three-pointer at the other end of the court. Dana Worker then missed a three and the Trojans turned that into a bucket by Bethany Wolph and a 27-7 lead with under three minutes left in the half. Wolph was the gameís high scorer with 15 points.

The Sand Devils made a run at the end of the half thanks to a pair of three-pointers by Natasha Henry and Dempseyís putback of an offensive rebound. Valley Christian led 31-17 at the break. Henry was the Devilsí top scorer with nine points.

Ember Sloan opened the second half with a three to get Page as close as it would get in the second half, but Wolph countered with a trey of her own to trigger a 7-0 run by the Trojans. Neither team did much for the rest of the third quarter, which ended with Valley Christian leading 40-23.

After the Trojans hit the first bucket of the fourth quarter, the Sand Devils made another run. Dempsey, showing good footwork inside the lane, was fouled while making a layup and converted the three-point play.

Pageís defense, fueled by desperation, began to rattle the Trojans.

Jordan Kensley, who scored eight points in an assertive performance, drove the lane for bucket, then Ariel Austin scored off a steal in the Devilsí full-court press.

The defensive intensity led to fouls, which Valley Christian converted, but Dana Worker hit three free throws of her own after being fouled on a shot from behind the arc. Page trailed 44-33 with 3:36 left, but the Trojans pulled away. Henry hit another three-pointer and Kensley another field goal, but the Sand Devils were unable to close the gap.

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