Coronado girls basketball coach Rich Santigate was calm but concerned as his team stepped off its traffic-delayed bus 17 minutes before game time on Tuesday.
His players got only 12 minutes to warm up, and they needed another three quarters to get into the swing of things. But once they did, the third-seeded Cougars took complete control, dominating the fourth quarter en route to a 54-42 road victory over second-seeded Rancho in the quarterfinal of the Sunrise Region tournament.
“This is a pretty resilient group,” Santigate said of his squad. “It was a good win, especially since the bus was so late.”
The teams appeared evenly matched throughout the first half, in which the Rams used a 21-13 rebounding advantage to keep it close. They ultimately gave much of it back, however, with 32 turnovers on the night, and Coronado led 29-27 at halftime.
Rancho used strong defense to rally in the third quarter, erasing a seven-point deficit and going ahead 36-35 on a pair of free throws by Taylor DeGourville at the 2:10 mark.
But the Cougars (18-10) answered to start the fourth, capping a 10-2 scoring spurt with a layup by Hayley Tyrell to go ahead 45-37 with 4:03 left to play.
“I think we started rebounding better,” Santigate said. “We got good play from our guards, who got their hands on the ball. We also got some steals and took away some of their offense.”
The Rams looked fatigued in the fourth quarter, in which they were held to five points.
Any doubt of a Cougars win was erased when Aeryn Hawkins nailed an acrobatic scoop shot and a subsequent free throw to give Coronado a 48-40 lead with 2:42 remaining. With several Rancho players in foul trouble, the Cougars just needed to work the clock and hit some free throws down the stretch.
Tyrell had 16 points, six rebounds and five steals to lead the Cougars, who will face Liberty (28-2) in Thursday’s 2 p.m. semifinal game at Canyon Springs.
Hawkins helped Coronado with 15 points, nine rebounds, and two steals.
Saipress Jones had 13 points and 22 rebounds to lead Rancho (18-11).
Canyon Springs 43, Green Valley 42 — At Canyon Springs, Jeanette Fine scored 18 points as the Pioneers edged the Bulldogs.
Iyani Hayden added 10 points, and Kayla Johnson tallied eight points for Canyon Springs (17-6), which will play Foothill on Thursday.
Michelle Lagunas-Monroy had 13 points, and Julia Clark scored 12 for Green Valley (15-10).
Foothill 72, Valley 35 — At Foothill, Bri Rosales had 10 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, helping to power the Falcons past the Vikings.
Kaylee Hall and Keilani Brown each supplied 13 points for Foothill (17-9), which led 34-15 at halftime.
Jeuzel Pollins scored a game high 24 points for Valley (9-19).
Liberty 61, Las Vegas 9 — At Liberty, Dre’una Edwards supplied 18 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks to power the Patriots to a blowout win over the Wildcats.
London Pavlica notched 12 points and 10 steals for Liberty, which got nine points and seven steals from Rae Burrell.
Las Vegas finished the year 6-23.