SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bradshaw Mtn. 8-4-12-16-40
By Steve Stockmar
Both teams were cold early, and only one got hot late.
The Dysart Demons and the Bradshaw Mountain Bears slowly traded jabs over the first two periods of their 4A Conference play-in game Thursday night in El Mirage to officially open the postseason with 16 teams going at it statewide. Only eight would survive to punch their ticket to the state tournament, which opens Wednesday, Feb. 13, and the Demons won’t be among them after Bradshaw Mountain took control in the second half of the Bears’ 40-30 win.
Neither team did much early, on a combined 23 percent shooting display over a first half that left Dysart up 18-12 at the break. A buzzer-beater from senior Kiara Anderson helped the Demons knot the score 8-8 after one period, and Dysart later drained three straight buckets — including a trey from Jacinda Chavez, one of two freshman Demon playoff starters — to widen the second-quarter lead to as many as seven at one point.
“They were upbeat and excited to be here,” Dysart coach Thomas Vesey said afterward. “They played a great first half.”
That’s when the Bears took their cue.
Bradshaw led on only one possession in the second quarter, and then on just one in the third, but that one was a big one.
Bradshaw Mountain clawed its way all the way back with a 12-5 run in the third period to cling to a 24-23 lead on the quarter’s last possession.
The Bears were only just finding their pace.
Bradshaw opened the fourth making good on all six of its first field goal attempts, including a 4-for-4 outburst from 5-foot-11 senior center Delanie Clark, who scored eight points in four minutes.
“We finally came to play,” Bradshaw Mountain coach Rick Haltom said. “Their pressure was really good. We were a little nervous, I’ll be honest. But I think our experience kind of paid off in the fourth quarter.”
After mustering just 12 points in the first half, the Bears posted 16 in the decisive final period on 7-of-9 from the floor. Dysart, meanwhile, struggled to the tune of 3-of-15 in the fourth.
“They started out-rebounding us in the second half,” Vesey said of Bradshaw. “We just couldn’t keep up. Basically they took it to us underneath the boards.”
The Bears had earned the play-in tournament’s 17-seed, which put them on the road against Dysart, which had been ranked at No. 32 at the end of the regular season, but leapt up to the 16-seed by virtue of a guaranteed home game as the Black Canyon Region champion.
Bradshaw (16-11 overall) will advance to the 16-team state dance, but will have to wait to learn its seeding and playoff road — as will the rest of the qualifying teams around the state — until the AIA’s live bracket announcement show at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9.
Until then, the Bears will have a light shoot-around Friday and the girls will enjoy the weekend off before they come back to “practice really hard on Monday and Tuesday,” Haltom says.“
We’ll show up to wherever (the AIA) tells us we’ve got to show up to,” he smiled.
Editor’s note: Email Steve Stockmar at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him @stevestockmar.