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Girls hoops: Mesquite pulls away in 2nd half to beat Chaparral

January 29, 2016 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Mesquite's bid to win its first girls basketball title is going well. It is solidly in the mix. Currently No. 3 in the Division I power-rankings the Lady Wildcats took a brief pause in that pursuit to give a shoutout to the only coach to coach that sport at the school -- Candice Gonzales.

Settiling into its fast-paced, up-tempo style late in the first half, Mesquite gradually pulled away and defeated host Chaparral, 68-51, supplying Gonzales the 300th win of her career.

"This is my 18th year coaching at the school,  Gonzales said. "The first year we had no varsity and I coached JV.  So this is my 17th year coaching varsity. I think it means I'm old."

Gonzales' team gathered underneath the basket near their bench after the game as usual to recap the effort. This huddle closed with the team arm-in-arm, chanting 300, 300, 300, 300. Each 300 was slightly louder the the first. The school likely will formally celebrate the accomplishment at its next home game on Wednesday (Feb. 3) against Dobson.

Mesquite won its ninth game in a row to boost its record to 18-5 overall and 12-2 in power-ranking games. Chaparral, No. 5 in those rankings, had a seven-game winning streak snapped. The Lady Firebirds are now 18-6, 10-4 prg.

Chaparral gave a better account in this meeting with Mesquite than the last one -- a 38-point loss in a November invitational.  The game was tied at 23  with a little more than two mintues left in the opening half when Mesquite senior Izzy Spruit sank her fourth three of the half to put Mesquite in front for good. Shaylee Gonzales, the coach's daughter, followed with a steal and layup. Mesquite went on to lead 31-25 at intermission.

"We started really slow, and kind of sat back waiting to see what they were going to do," Candice Gonzales said. "I think if there was an adjustment at halftime it was determination."

That's the way it looked, too. Mesquite outscored Chaparral, 21-15, in the third period. Shaylee Gonzales scored six of her 15 points in the quarter, Spruit connected on her fifth three (finishing with 15 points) and reserve Lauren Harrington checked in with five points off the bench (finishing with eight). Lindsey Vanallen led all scorers with 20 points as she and Spruit werre the offense that kept Mesquite in front after the first period (14-13) with six points each. 

Mesquite's effort got a boost with the return to action of senior Alexis Springfield, who missed the last three games due to injury. Springfield chipped in with eght points.

Chaparral wasn't able to stem the tide from Mesquite's 8-2 run that ended the first half, gettiing outcored 14-7 the first 3 1/2 minute of the third period slow start in the third period. Chaparral trailed by 12 heading to the fourth quarter, but Mesquite slowed became more deilberate in the half court. That limited Chaparral's ability to make any kind of late run.

Kayla Shaw led a balanced attack for Chaparral with 12 point, followed by Summer Menke (10) and Maddie Vick and Reece Benally with nine points apiece.