Valley Vista progressed another step Thursday in its attempted ascent to the top of the big-school mountain in girls basketball.
The Monsoon bolted to a 13-2 lead after the first quarter and went on -- shakily -- to topple Mountain Pointe, 35-30, in a 6A semifinal contest at Gila River Arena.
Valley Vista (23-6) advances to the final for the first time in school history. Over the last four years underr coach Rachel Matakas, the Monsoon have lost in the round of 16, then the quarterfinals and last year in the semis. One more step looms. Mountain Pointe, the darkhorse of the tournament as the No. 10 seed, finished up 23-10 under first year coach Justin Hager.
Taylor Chavez scored a game-high 16 points and was one of the only players to have a decent shooting game. Chavez made 6 of 14 shots and scored six points in the final period to help stave off the beyond frigidly cold-shooting Pride. Mountain Pointe was 10 of 56 from the field and scored its fewest points of the season by far.
Mountain Pointe pulled within 29-28 -- the best it could do other than a 2-0 lead the first minute of the game. But an inbounds layin by Kiara Edwards -- her only points of the game -- followed a minute later by Terrysha Banner's putback made it 35-28 with 50 seconds left.
Banner finished with nine points and Clarissa Rodarte with eight -- all in the first quarter for Valley Vista. Strover added 11 reobunds while teammate Eve Kulovitz grabbed 15 rebounds.
MILLENNIUM 52, GILBERT 47: The two-person combo of Ali Zelaya and Dominique Phillips was too much to overcome for top-seed Gilbert (26-3) in its semifinal with No. 4 Millennium (24-7).
Zelaya, a freshman and Phillips, a sophomore, combined for 46 of Millennium's points and kept Gilbert from making a late charge in the final minutes. Phillips scored 19 of her game-high 24 points in the second half while Zelaya added 22 points and 12 rebounds. Six of Millennium's top seven players are underclassmen with one senior in its starting lineup.
Millennium moves on to the final for the second time in three years to face Valley Vista for the third time this season. The teams split their prior meetings.
Gilbert, trailing by four heading to the final quarter, pulled within 33-32 on Stacy Hock's 3-point field goal with 709 to go. Four successive points by Zelaya widened the gap to five. But Hanna Cavinder answered with a 3 with 5:28 to go to make it 37-35.
Over the final five minutes, Phiillips scored her final seven points, including five of six free throws in the last minute to seal the deal.
Haley Cavinder led Gilbert with 17 points, Hanna Cavinder added 13 and Hock finished with 10.