The Valley Christian girls basketball team captured the Division III, Section III championship with a 71-65 win over Buckeye Saturday night at Surprise Valley Vista High School.
Valley Christian (28-2) is the No. 2 seed in the Division III state tournament. It will get a first-round bye and play the Gilbert Christian-Round Valley winner in the second round Saturday at 6 p.m. at the NAU Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff.
The Trojans looked to make this a runaway early on. They opened the game on a 23-4 run in the first five minutes. Tana Kemmer keyed the run with three consecutive three-pointers.
"We were glad to get a big lead early, "Trojans Coach Scott Timmer said.
At one stretch, the Trojans missed 21 of 24 shots yet only saw their lead slip from twenty points to ten. The Hawks didn't take advantage as they were hampered by 15 turnovers in the game.
Valley Christian held a 17-point edge going into the fourth but Buckeye wouldn't go quietly. The Hawks used strong free-throw shooting to chip the Trojan lead back to ten points with just over two minutes left. It shrunk to seven points with 1:14 left and Buckeye had a chance to trim the deficit even farther.
"We have to give credit to Buckeye for making it a close game," Timmer said.
Buckeye finished 20-of-31 from the foul line but the Hawks missed a pair of free throws and a key three pointer in the final minute. Kemmer hit a three-pointer to make it a 10-point game with less than a minute left. She finished with 19 points in the win.
Timmer said his team feels good about making another trip to the state tournament. The Trojans are aiming for a third consecutive state title.