The lone blemish on Scottsdale Chaparral’s region record was put there six weeks ago by No. 5 Cave Creek Cactus Shadows.
The Firebirds have been fuming about it ever since.
“That last game (against the Falcons) made us mad because we knew we could have played better. We played a lousy game that game,” forward Sam Russell said of her basketball team’s 14-point road loss on Dec. 7.
On Friday, host Chaparral released all the built-up frustration from that game — and any other it had been holding onto — in the form of a 75-53 blowout of those same Falcons.
“We came out ready to play tonight,” said Russell, who finished with a game-high 23 points (11 more than she had in the first meeting) on 11-of-13 shooting and seven rebounds.
The Firebirds (15-7, 6-1 4A-I Desert Sky) also got 19 points from point guard Aria Krumwiede and 14 from guard Libby Valentin. That pair also combined for 13 of the team’s 23 assists.
“We were able to move the ball around quickly, which got the defense spread out and that made room for people to penetrate and get wide-open shots,” Russell said. “It was the teamwork that go it done.”
Chaparral jumped out to a 16-6 advantage after the first eight minutes and added to its lead every quarter thereafter. It led by 11 at halftime and 15 at the end of three quarters.
Coach Marcy Sanchez said her team’s performance was its best of the season.
“We’ve had a quarter here and a quarter there and two here (in which we played well). Tonight we played four quarters,” she said.
The win, at least temporarily, thins out the logjam atop the Desert Sky standings — Chaparral, Cactus Shadows (18-6) and Tempe McClintock all came into Friday 5-1 in region play — and means Tuesday’s meeting between the Firebirds and Chargers will be for sole possession of first.
Falcons forward Kate Accola and guard Gracie Goulder did their best to keep their team in the game, finishing with 20 and 13 points, respectively, but 22 of those points came after halftime and Cactus Shadows’ defense had its poorest outing of the season.
“Defensively, they beat us up inside,” said coach Ryan Pletnick, whose club had been allowing just 43.5 points per game. “Russell just took over that game for them. We prepared for it, but we just didn’t come out and do it. We had one of those nights where you come out and fall flat.”