It’s almost a dream, but it is definitely real.
Vail Cienega’s girls basketball team has advanced to Saturday’s (March 1) Division II championship game for the first time in school history.
The Bobcats did it by dethroning 2013 champion Scottsdale Saguaro 57-49 in a semifinal game on Thursday (Feb. 27) at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.
Cienega, seeded No.3, will meet either top-seeded Chandler Seton Catholic or No. 12 Buckeye on Saturday at 11 a.m. Those two played later Thursday night.
Cienega withstood a full-court press by 10th-seeded Saguaro in the third quarter that turned a 10-point deficit into a pair of brief leads. Saguaro trailed by just two entering the fourth.
Junior forward Treyanna Clay scored five early points in the fourth to help Cienega increase its lead to 10 points. Saguaro could get no closer than six the rest of the way.
Clay was the difference, using her sheer will and athleticism to help keep her team in front.
She finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds.
“Trey always has been a battler,’’ said Cienega coach Paul Reed. “She is a tough kid.’’
The tough kid was all smiles afterward.
“This is great for our team and from our school,’’ said Clay, who with her teammates planned to watch the Cienega boys play Phoenix Shadow Mountain in the semifinals later Thursday night.
She said the Saguaro press didn’t necessarily make the Bobcats nervous, “but I think we were kind of startled. We had not faced a press this year that was as good as that one. We were finally able to settle down.’’
Reed said of his team, “I’m proud of the girls. We battled through. We never gave up.’’
Saguaro coach Chris Young knew the press would be a double-edged sword, that his team could get back into the game but would expend a lot of energy doing it.
“Give them (Cienega) credit. They hit a lot of big shots when they needed to. We gave a good effort, but they always seemed to have an answer.’’