Can Scottsdale Salt River win a second straight Division IV girls basketball championship?
From the way the season has started, the Lady Eagles would appear to have a good chance.
The team put another mark in the win column on Friday night (Dec. 20), defeating host Phoenix Arizona Lutheran 51-34. Salt River improved to 12-0, Arizona Lutheran fell to 2-8.
Senior point guard Ashley Lomavaya played a fine all-around game for Salt River, scoring 19 points, setting up teammates with accurate passes and accumulating several steals.
After Salt River lost point guard Kishan Cooper to graduation, Lomavaya transferred in from Tuba City, where she was one of the top players in Division III.
She earned MVP honors in the recent Round Valley Roundball Shootout, leading the Lady Eagles to the tourney title with a win over Thatcher.
“She’s a very good point guard. She keeps us going,’’ said Salt River coach Shawn Lytle.
Lytle said his team was missing a few players on Friday night, but the team had a solid effort.
The coach thought Arizona Lutheran’s record was a bit deceptive coming into the game and figured the Coyotes would offer a challenge.
They did in the early going, or at least guard Tatum Biciolis did. She hit three 3-pointers, the third pulling the Coyotes within 14-9. Then Salt River closed out the first quarter with a 7-0 run when Joy Manuel hit back-to-back buckets on breaks led by Lomavaya and Lomavaya herself chipped in with a 3-pointer.
Salt River hit two more 3-pointers, by Marissa Flores and Brianna Kewanwytewa, to begin the second quarter and the team began to pull away.
A bucket by Lomavaya gave Salt River an 18-point cushion early in the fourth, and Arizona Lutheran pulled to within 11 with about four minutes left in the game before Salt River pulled away again.
Salt River played a 1-2-2 matchup zone most of the time, and Arizona Lutheran had trouble getting close enough for the high-percentage shots.
“We don’t have quite the footspeed that we did last year, when we played more man-to-man,’’ Lytle said. “The zone helps us compensate.
“Because we had a few people out, we had some players with more minutes than they were used to. We got a little tired there toward the end, but we were able to get the win.’’
Kewanwytewa had 10 points to help Salt River’s cause. Biciolis led Arizona Lutheran with 12 points, all on 3-pointers.