Dobson's girls basketball team has proven its staying power through three weeks of the new season. The Lady Mustangs were forced to show it again the final four minutes Saturday night.
Dobson responded to a 7-0 Hamilton run midway through the fourth period that nearly cost it the lead by blanking its foe the final 4 minutes and 13 seconds in posting a 56-44 victory over the Lady Huskies at US Airways Center in Phoenix.
The perceived wide-open race in Division I girls basketball this season is still going to be that, but Dobson's 10-0 start to the season is impressive. The Lady Mustangs have among their conquests Mountain Pointe, Mountain View, Mesquite, Westview, Highland (twice) and Hamilton. That's a huge chunk of the contenders that stalk the postseason bracket every year. Hamilton brought a 3-0 record to the contest, dumping rebuilding Xavier and St. Mary's and a more seasoned Boulder Creek handily. Saturday was Hamilton's first major test with the majority of its top seven players underclassmen.
Dobson coach Tyler Dumas didn't overreact to his team's fourth-period brain cramp and a burst of resiliency by Hamilton in a half-minute stretch in the fourth. The remedy was simple.
"They hit a three and then we didn't get back on defense twice," Dumas said. " I told them during the timeout (called by Hamilton) they needed to get their (tails) back on defense."
Dobson's 47-38 lead with 4:40 to play, tied for its biggest of the night, was 47-44 coming out of the time out. Over the final four minutes Hamilton's downfall was six turnovers, two missed free throws and and two missed field goals adding up to zero points. Meanwhile Dobson made enough free throws on a sub-par free-throw-shooting night to pull away for the victory.
Dobson got balanced scoring, which has become its norm. Seniors Tori Lloyd an Miyah Leith led Dobson with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Juniors Dyesha Stahley and Sara Nichols added nine points each and junior Alexis Todd chipped in with seven. NIchols and Stahley made two free throws each on consecutive possessions after Hamilton's time out to boost the lead back to seven (51-44). Dobson made 16 free throws and missed 11 for the game.
Dobson also had an inside presence offensively with Nichols and Kayla Clark combining for 12 points in the paint. Hamilton essentially plays five guards, but is effective without a true post player.
"They''ve played more games than we have and that hurt us," Hamilton coach Jeff Kain said. "I chose not to play in a Thanksgiving tournament this year hoping to keep us fresher. They have a solid, experienced team. I liked the run we made at them, but our legs were spent using so much energy to play catch up."
Hamilton returned two starters from last year in Ashlee Moore and Payton Whitmore and a third that started a good deal of the time in Shelby Hartman. The Lady Huskies started two seniors, two sophomores and a freshman. The seniors -- Hartman and Moore - led them in scoring with 11 points and nine points, respectively. Moore did not score in the second half.
"This was only our fourth game so we're still looking for combinations and cohesiveness," Kain said. "We're still learning. We showed signs we have the potential to come back and score quickly. We did it a couple times."
About the only top contending team Dobson has yet to face is current consensus No. 1 Desert Vista. Both may be in the same bracket on opposite sides of the bracket in next week's NIke Tournament of Champions in Chandler.