February 20, 2005
After falling behind early to Thatcher in its 2A state quarterfinal matchup, the Scottsdale Christian girls basketball team had quite a hill to climb to finish victorious.
The Eagles ended about two steps short of the top.
Led by Jasmine Smith’s 20 points, four-time defending state champion Thatcher withstood a furious rally by Scottsdale Christian for a 44-39 victory on Saturday at Tempe High.
"I expected that to be the championship game," Smith said. "And basically it was."
Thatcher jumped out to a 22-16 lead at halftime by feeding Smith in the post every opportunity it had. The lead ballooned to 32-21 late in the third quarter before Scottsdale Christian’s Wendy Woudenberg found her stroke.
Woudenberg, who finishes her prep career as the alltime leading scorer for 2A girls, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to five, and capped the 16-5 run by nailing another 3 with 3:00 left to knot the game at 37.
Thatcher, however, never lost its composure.
Leslie Aaron drained a 3-pointer of her own with 2:11 left for a 40-37 lead, and Thatcher never trailed again.
"If she’s on, she’s on," Thatcher coach Dick Cremer said of Aaron. "That was a big shot for us."
Scottsdale Christian had plenty of opportunities to tie the game in the final two minutes. Ashley Frank cut the lead to one at 40-39, but Thatcher broke the full-court press for an easy lay-up on the other end.
The last good chance for Scottsdale Christian came when Woudenberg shot a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left that rimmed out. Kristen Englert grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled, but missed the front end of the one-and-one.
Thatcher’s Kassidy Stevens sealed the win by hitting two foul shots with 3.3 seconds remaining.
Scottsdale Christian may not have been in the game if not for the shooting of Frank in the first half. While Woudenberg struggled, Frank hit two key 3-pointers in the second quarter that prevented Thatcher from breaking away. She finished with 14 points.
"Our girls just worked tonight," Cremer said. "That’s the best game we’ve played, and it had to be. They were an outstanding basketball team."