After playing a full regulation basketball game, then three overtimes, the Salt River Eagles varsity basketball team lost 68-61 to Tempe Prep on December 16 at Salt River High School.
The junior varsity team lost to Tempe Prep in the game prior. Tempe Prep led 4-0 at the end of the first quarter. The girls showed a great deal of hustle and were extremely active on defense, but they still trailed 12-3 at the end of the first half.
The Lady Eagles were only able to score 2 more points in the second half and lost 33-5 to the Knights.
The Lady Eagles’ Briana Kewanwytewa started off the varsity game for Salt River with an early basket, followed by a 3-point basket to take the early 5-0 lead.
Rachel Cooper battled for the rebound on a missed shot by Tempe Prep. On the next play, Tempe Prep was called on a blocking foul and on the inbounds play; Kishan Cooper dished the ball to Kewanwytewa, who hit her second 3-point shot of the game to improve their lead 8-0.
Tempe Prep capitalized on their next three shot attempts, but Kishan Cooper added another for Salt River, followed by Kewanwytewa, to improve their lead 12-8 at the end of the first quarter.
Despite going up against a much taller team, the Eagles played tough and Kewanwytewa opened the play of the second quarter with a big defensive rebound for Salt River. Up to this point, the Lady Eagles had led for the entire game, but now Tempe Prep was able to tie the score. Rachel Cooper pulled down the next rebound and passed the ball to Kishan Cooper, who added a basket to retake the lead, 14-12. Late in the second quarter, Tempe Prep began to expose a challenging baseline defense by Salt River and the Knights were able to tie the game at 14. But Tillie Miles hit an 8-foot jumper, resulting in a 16-14 lead. The game would continue with both teams trading baskets, but Salt River was able to sustain their lead at 18-16 with a jumper by Kishan Cooper. At the end of the first half, the game was tied at 19.
Tempe Prep came out of the locker room to start the second half and took an early 24-19 lead. But Salt River answered back, led by Kishan Cooper, to tie the game at 25. Kewanwytewa executed on two free throws with 3:38 left in the third quarter. Joy Manuel made a big impact with two minutes left in the game, going to the basket on two missed attempts, and earned the foul to go ahead 27-25.
She continued her aggressive play on the defensive side of the ball, forcing a turnover by the Knights. At the end of the third quarter, Salt River trailed by 6 points, 33-27.
With less than six minutes left in the game, Tempe Prep led by 8 points, but Salt River worked their way back to within 5.
Coming down the final two minutes, Tempe Prep led 41-40. Kewanwytewa was at the line shooting two, but missed both shots, with the Eagles trailing by 1.
Tempe Prep missed their next attempt and Salt River won the ball back, but the Eagles suffered a technical foul. This was followed by a technical foul called on the Knights, but both teams hit one of their free throws and the score changed to 42-41, with Tempe Prep on top, with 1:08 left in the game. The Knights continued to utilize the baseline to earn their points. With 45 seconds left, Salt River gained possession and the Knights called a timeout. Salt River brought the ball in at half court and Celia Padilla-Hicks jumper attempt fell short with 21.5 seconds left in the game.
Manuel had the ball but gave it away on a pass attempt. Her teammate Kewanwytewa won the ball back and passed to Manuel underneath; Manuel was fouled by the Knights and went to the line. She made one of two free throws to tie the game at 43 with 5.1 seconds left. Padilla-Hicks nearly earned a steal on the Knights’ next possession, but time expired.
The score at the end of regulation was 43-43. The Lady Eagles started the first overtime with a steal from Kishan Cooper, and Kewanwytewa grabbed the inbounds pass and scored the 2 points to go ahead 45-43. After trading several baskets, the teams were tied at 48 with less than 40 seconds left in overtime.
This after Kishan Cooper drove the lane, scoring the basket and getting fouled.
In the second overtime, starting off tied 48-48, the Knights eventually led 54-51 and Kishan Cooper made a great reverse lay-up to tie the game at 56, and the game was sent into a third overtime. Salt River was able to tie the game at 57, but they could never get over the hump. The Lady Eagles continued to push and never gave up, but it was not enough, as they fell to Tempe Prep 68-61 after three overtimes.