Defense propels Scorpions to victory over Mohave
February 20, 2021 by Prince James Story, Arizona State University
Prince James Story is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover Desert Edge High School for AZPreps365.com
The Desert Edge girls basketball team protected its home court on Friday night in a hard-fought, 47-34 victory over Mohave.
The Scorpions, who never trailed in the game, led 15-13 at the end of the first quarter. Alyssa Heath had eight points for the Thunderbirds.
In the second quarter, the Scorpions picked up their defensive intensity. They played physical, which led to turnovers.
The Scorpions increased their lead to 21-14 with six minutes to go in the quarter. At that point, Mohave's starting point guard, Kylee Heath, received two technical fouls and was ejected.
“Both my daughters are competitors, just like myself,” Thunderbirds coach Corey Heath said. “I have a lot of compassion for the game, and my girls do too.”
Heath did acknowledge that Kylee's comments to the referee were not acceptable.
Kylee is a senior, and she is one of the Thunderbirds' captains. Her sister, Alyssa, is a junior and the team’s leading scorer. Alyssa is ranked sixth in points per game (21.6) in the state.
“She is kind of the quarterback of our team, and when she is not there, we don’t execute as well,” Coach Heath said about Kylee. “Her sister is the one who scores, and she is the one who keeps everyone together, but when she loses her composure, we're not a very good team.”
Following the two technical fouls, Haley Montano made all four of her free throws, which gave the Scorpions an 11-point lead with five minutes left to go in the quarter.
Like in the first quarter, Alyssa Heath sparked a comeback for the Thunderbirds, scoring 14 points. Her 3-pointer with 42 seconds left in the quarter tied the game at 30-30.
Montano made two free throws with 22 seconds left in the quarter, putting the Scorpions up 32-30 at halftime.
At halftime, Montano had 18 points, and Alyssa Heath had 22 points.
Both teams were riddled with turnovers at the beginning of the second half.
The Scorpions outscored the Thunderbirds, 11-4, in the third quarter to take a 43-34 lead. Mohave did not score in the fourth quarter.
“The goal was to contain 23 (Alyssa Heath) as best we could," Scorpions coach Heidi Behnke said. "She was hot in the first half, but she cooled off a little bit in the second half. That played into us getting defensive rebounds and us finishing on the offensive end.”
Heath finished the game with 26 points.
The Scorpions finished the game strong defensively, and they held the Thunderbirds scoreless in the fourth quarter.
Montano led the Scorpions with a season-high 27.
“She is our best player,” Behnke said. “We rely heavily on her decision-making and her finishing ability. Today I thought she played an overall great game offensively.”
The Scorpions are still fighting for a playoff spot, with five games left in the season, and three out of those five games are against teams in the 4A West Valley region.
“We’re just looking to try to win all the games we have left since we did lose a couple of games that we should have probably won,” Montano said.
Mohave (7-5) will host Mingus Union (3-8) at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Desert Edge (7-5) will host Paradise Honors (6-5) at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.