February 25, 2005
Red Mountain’s Kayla Pedersen is used to producing double-doubles in her young career. She presented one to the Mountain Lions’ faithful Thursday night in just one half of basketball.
Pedersen finished with a game-high 28 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in leading the East Valley Region champs to a 51-34 win over visiting Horizon in the second round of the 5A state tournament.
"She really is playing well," said Red Mountain coach Martin Appel, already used to superlatives in describing the ability of the 6-foot-3 sophomore who plays all over the court.
Red Mountain (25-7) advances to Saturday’s quarterfinals, where it faces the ultimate test of the season by visiting defending state champion Phoenix St. Mary’s at 7 p.m.
Pedersen, who averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds a game in the regular season, scored 16 points and nabbed 10 rebounds in the first half as Red Mountain took control from the outset. The Mountain Lions led 25-10 at halftime with Pedersen hitting 7-of-10 shots from the field. The Mountain Lions’ defense kept Horizon from getting comfortable early on, with only forward Antoinette Reed able to get going in the first half. Reed scored eight of her nine points in the first half.
"The first half was the difference," Horizon coach Troy Wiese said. "We came out jittery. We didn’t get many, if any, good looks in the first half, and rushed the ball too much. You have to attribute that to them playing good defense."
In two tournament wins, Pedersen is averaging 27.5 points a game and 16 rebounds. Senior Nicole Childers, Red Mountain’s alltime leading scorer, complemented Pedersen’s effort with 17 points in her final home game. Childers scored eight of those points in the third period when Red Mountain rebuffed a mild Horizon threat ignited by senior guard Alicia Ramirez.
Ramirez was scoreless in the first half but ripped the nets for 14 points in the second half. She made four 3-pointers — three in the third period — that briefly brought Horizon (26-8) within eight, 31-23, with three minutes left in the third period. Pedersen and Childers combined for 25 of Red Mountain’s 26 points in the second half as the lead gradually improved to the point it was at halftime.
"We made some adjustments in the second half," Wiese said. "We played hard, and gave everything we had."