For Seton Catholic’s Theresa Wirth, choosing a college wasn’t easy.
Before the girls basketball season started, she checked out about 15 colleges unofficially, took her allotment of four official visits and spent hours going over the choices in her head before finally settling on the University of Denver.
“It was really stressful,” Wirth said.
Once she got back on the court, everything went back to normal — which wasn’t a good thing for her competition.
The senior forward averaged 19.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and shot 58 percent from the field, leading the Sentinels to a second consecutive 4A Division II state championship. Her offensive and defensive prowess made Wirth the Tribune Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
Wirth said once the recruiting process was over, it was nice to just concentrate on basketball again. But she knew she couldn’t be complacent if she wanted to end her high school career cutting down the nets at Jobing.com Arena.
“I definitely still wanted to go out with a title,” Wirth said. Seton coach “Karen (Self) was scared of us being more relaxed, so she was over-cautious about not letting us be satisfied with just one.”
Seton finished the season 29-3 and didn’t lose to a 4A-II school all year.
Wirth followed in the footsteps of big sisters Alana and Christina at Seton Catholic, and did a fine job holding up the family tradition of starring at Seton. She one-upped them in a crucial category, winning a pair of state championships in her high school career after neither Alana nor Christina captured one.
Wirth said getting upset in the second round of the state tournament as a sophomore motivated her and her teammates.
“That was the worst loss I’ve ever experienced,” she said.
She got her first title as a junior, then followed it up with a 61-49 victory over Thunderbird this season for another championship.
“I think we’re spoiled now, and if we would have won those ones (during her first two seasons) we wouldn’t have known what it feels like not to,” Wirth said. “It did kind of fire us up a little bit.”
Wirth was Seton’s leading scorer in each of her four years on the team, and earlier this season surpassed 2,000 career points. Add in the pair of titles and the chance to play collegiately, and it was a storybook career.
“I don’t think I would change anything,” Wirth said.
All-Tribune first team
Player School Pos. Year Comment
Theresa Wirth Seton Catholic F Sr. Denver commit averaged 19.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and shot 58 percent for 4A-II champs
Arnecia Hawkins Mountain View F Jr. ASU commit averaged 15.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.3 steals per game
Gabby Washington Desert Ridge G Sr. Three-time region POY will play for Sacred Heart next season
Je Zhe’ Newton Chandler F Sr. Low post threat helped Wolves to finals; averaged 13.4 points, 9.4 rebounds per game
Kaile Magazzeni Highland F Sr. All-around athlete averaged 15.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.6 blocks per game
Player of the Year: Theresa Wirth, Seton Catholic.
Coach of the Year: Mary Hauser, Xavier: Gators surprised many by making 5A-I semifinals in Hauser’s first season as coach.
All-Tribune second team
Player School Pos. Year Comment
Ashton Wolf Valley Christian G Sr. Averaged 20.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 5.7 steals for 2A champs
Sydney Wiese Pinnacle G So. Sharpshooter averaged 17.6 points, 5.7 assists, 2.7 steals for 5A-II runners-up
Lauren Evans Hamilton G Sr. Fiesta Region co-POY averaged 13.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.7 asists, 5.6 steals per game
Shilpa Tummala St Mary’s G Jr. Best player on best team in state could stretch defenses with solid outside shot
Jaymee Brugmann Desert Vista F Jr. Picked up slack when Simone Westbrook left; averaged 15.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, shot 57 percent
Apache Junction: Sierra Aulik, Sr., G.
Arcadia: Kylie Herd, So., F.
Basha: Natalie Markovich, Sr., G.
Cactus Shadows: Kaylee Paciora, Sr., F; Kara Curley, Sr., F.
Campo Verde: Di Di Moloi, So., G.
Chaparral: Batabe Zempare, Jr., F.
Chandler: Raven Anderson, Sr., F; Dezirae Elias, G, Jr.
Chandler Prep: Jayne Tetzlaff, Jr. F.
Corona del Sol: Alexa Hogberg, So., G.
Coronado: Amber Webster, Sr., G.
Desert Mountain: Brittan Bushman, Sr. F.
Desert Ridge: Brooke Violette. Sr., G.
Dobson: Katherine Hamilton, So., G.
Gilbert Christian: Molly van Rijn, Sr., G; Whitney Williams, Sr., F.
Hamilton: Chelcee Pullam, Sr., F.
Highland: Cassie Damyanovich, Sr., F.
Horizon: Madison Austin, Jr., F.
Marcos de Niza: Sydnie Lengyel, So., F.
McClintock: Brittany Dent, Sr., G.
Mountain Pointe: Kaylah Lupoe, Fr., F; Aleks Cataruzolo, Sr., F.
Mountain View: Rene Coggins, So., G.
Notre Dame: Monica Turley, So., G.
Perry: Sarah Beth Hock, Sr., F.
Pinnacle: Aley Rohde, Sr., F.
Red Mountain: Shea Brown, Jr., F.
Saguaro: Caylee Vasquez, Jr., G.
Scottsdale Christian: Anna Long, So., G.
Seton Catholic: Kayla Bustos, Sr. G; Julia Barcello, Fr., F.
St. Mary’s: Cortnee Walton, Jr., F; Chantel Osahor, So., F; Courtney Ekmark, Fr. G.
Tempe: Megan Anderson, Sr, G.
Valley Christian: Tana Kemmer, So., G.
Westwood: Grace Alvarez, Sr., G.
Xavier: Rikki Mulloy, Sr., G; Aubrey Lincoln, Sr., G.
Memorable Moments from the 2010-2011 season
The extra defender: In the 5A-I quarterfinals, Mountain View held on to beat Hamilton by a point, surviving a last-second shot by the Huskies, but that was just a small part of the story. Hamilton called timeout with 6.2 seconds left, trailing 50-49. When the play began, the Toros inadvertently had six defenders on the court. Normally, that wold result in two free throws for the technical foul and possession of the ball. The referees, though, missed the extra player on the court, and Hamilton coach Jeff Kain’s pleas after the buzzer went on deaf ears. Mountain View would get knocked off in the semifinals, but that was no consolation to a Hamilton team that had a golden chance at advancing if the technical foul was called.
Seton repeats: With both Theresa Wirth and Kayla Bustos returning, the Sentinels were the preseason pick to repeat as 4A Division II champions. While a rash of injuries made it tougher than expected, the Sentinels still got the job done, beating Thunderbird 61-49 in the title game. Seton was dominant from start to finish, ending the year with a 29-3 record and no losses to 4A-II squads.
Westbrook’s switch: Desert Vista guard Simone Westbrook starred on the team for her first two years of high school and earned a scholarship offer from Arizona State in the process, but she surpised the basketball community by originally deciding to sit out her junior year. However, her family moved to Chandler before the school’s second semester and she suited up for the last part of the season. Westbrook averaged 11.5 points and 4.3 assists in limited time with the Wolves, but did help them to the 5A Division I championship game.
Over the hump: St. Mary’s were the favorites to win the 5A Division I championship last season despite its youth, but was upset in the title game by Dobson. This year, the Knights entered the postseason with the same expectation, but pulled it off. St. Mary’s defeated Chandler 73-60 to win the title. Both teams have several key pieces coming back and both should be in the hunt next year.
Just missed. Again: It never gets any easier. For the fifth consecutive season, Pinnacle made it to the state championship, and for the fifth straight year, it left without a ring. The last three title-game losses have come to Tolleson, with this year’s version a 65-47 loss. Sydney Wiese and several other talented young players will return next year, but that doesn’t take the sting off losing another championship game.
Tempe Prep shocks Valley Christian: Valley Christian went 30-0 last season and won the 2A title, and began this season 18-0. The Trojans were zeroing in on the 2A record for consecutive wins, set at 56 by Thatcher from 2000-02, but Tempe Prep had other ideas. On Jan. 18, Valley Christian let a 14-point fourth quarter lead vanish and Tempe Prep pulled the upset when Janel Brinkman beat the buzzer for a 50-48 victory. While Valley Christian’s winning streak ended at 48 games, it still went on to win a second consecutive state championship in February.