There was little doubt who the best player on the floor was during the Class 1A Southern League semifinal between Beatty and Round Mountain on Friday afternoon.
Junior Alyssa Hanks was fed early and often in the paint, and scored 28 points to lead the Knights in a 55-36 win over the Hornets at Sunrise Mountain.
“The key to us being successful is to play through her,” Round Mountain coach Jake Topholm said. “If she gets a one-on-one matchup she’s pretty tough to stop.”
Hanks scored 15 of the Knights’ 28 first half points, as Round Mountain (15-6) built a 12-point lead heading into halftime. The Knights only pushed harder on the gas after the break, outscoring Beatty 27-19 in the second half to clinch a spot in the title game and a ticket to the state tournament.
Senior Hannah Swafford added 14 points for the Knights in the victory.
“Staying ahead and keeping the momentum on our side was huge the whole game,” Topholm said. “It’s big getting that one and getting momentum because we haven’t played in a week.”
Topholm said he was impressed by the Hornets’ ability to hang close with them during the game, as his expectations heading in were a little higher for his team.
“I thought we would win by a little bit more,” Topholm said. “They were pretty scrappy today, they hung with us pretty well in the first half.”
Senior Claudia Granados lead Beatty (12-7) with 12 points, and senior Jasmin Pelayo-Leal added eight more points.
Saturday the Knights meet Pahranagat Valley (15-8) at noon at Sunrise Mountain. The teams met once this season with the Panthers taking a 46-37 win, where Hanks was held to just seven points.
“We have to handle their pressure tomorrow,” Topholm said. “We have to limit (Karley) Whipple’s touches because she’s kind of their motor. She’s their version of my Alyssa.”
In that case it will be up to the Knights’ defense to lead them to regional championship.
“If we can just limit her and make someone else beat us we’re going to be alright and we’ll be in the game,” Topholm said.
Pahranagat Valley 41, Beaver Dam 16 — At Sunrise Mountain, nine players scored for the Panthers in a balanced attack as they rolled over the Diamondbacks in the Class 1A Southern League semifinals.
Whipple led Paharanagat Valley with seven points, and senior Allyse Frehner added six more.
“Hopefully that means we’ll have legs,” Pahranagat Valley coach Amy Huntsman said. “A lot of my better players didn’t have a great game so hopefully Karley and some of the kids will be able to step up and have a better game tomorrow.”
Despite the lopsided margin, Hunstman said Pahranagat Valley’s victory could have been bigger.
“We can get here early tomorrow and hopefully we can get comfortable with the rims,” Hunstman said. “Normally we’re a little better shooting team than that so it was a little frustrating.”
Senior Jailene Hernandez and junior Danielle Garlick each scored six to lead Beaver Dam (12-12).
Contact reporter Bill Slane at email@example.com or 702-380-4559. Follow @bill_slane on Twitter.