Great Team Beats A Great Player

She loves to win big games" VC Head Coach Scott Timmer said of Sara Visser after the VC/SCA game Friday night. With SCA's Wendy Woudenberg firing on all cylinders, Visser and VC would have their hands full.

The most exciting player in Arizona girls basketball is Wendy Woudenberg of Scottsdale Christian Academy.

The best team in Arizona 2A girls basketball is Valley Christian.

Late in the third quarter Friday night one of the VC assistants could be heard chanting "The team beats the individual! The team beats the individual!"

When the dust settled in Valley Christian's 53-48 win it was a great team beating a great player, but not by much.

Valley Christian came into the game knowing that not only were the playing against one of the best players in the state in Woudenberg, but a huge height disadvantage against the SCA frontcourt. Early on it showed as SCA kept themselves in the game by dominating the glass, often times on the offensive end. At the end of the first quarter VC led 11-6, and it appeared that VC's team defense, a mix of traditional man to man and zone, with the occasional ‘box and 1' thrown in was working on Woudenberg.

But she was just warming up. Woudenberg went on a tear in the second quarter, bringing her team within a bucket with just over 1:30 in the half. Five straight points from VC's Whitney Hanenberg helped the Trojans stay in control and the score was 23-19 going into the break.

With Woudenberg scoring 15 of her team's 19 first half points, Scott Timmer made a major adjustment coming out of the locker room. Karly Crawford was given one job, slow down Woudenberg. Crawford and VC decided the best way to keep Woudenberg from scoring was to simply keep the ball out of her hands. It worked, for awhile. Crawford's defense kept Woudenberg, and the entire SCA team, off the scoreboard for the first three minutes of the third quarter.

While VC's defense got tough, their scoring suffered. They opened the third quarter by missing four straight free throws, and managed only two points in the first five and a half minutes of the period.

And then Wendy went off. SCA simply gave her the ball, let her bring it up the court, and dominate. Seven straight points by Woudenberg brought SCA to within one, 27-26, and then a drive and dish to Ashley Bunch gave SCA their first lead of the game with 2:15 left in the third.

Hanenberg countered for VC when she drew a foul while draining a short jumper, but after missing the free throw SCA moved down the court and after a missed trey ReAnn Robbins continued SCA's rebounding dominance and drew a foul of her own as she put back the miss. The third came to a close with SCA leading by one and a wild fourth quarter to come.

Everyone in the area code knew who would bring SCA down the stretch, but the question was would Woudenberg be enough? Ally French hit two baseline jumpers against an SCA 1-3-1 zone that was giving VC's offense fits, and the two teams traded baskets for the first three minutes until a Hanenberg three touched nothing but net and gave VC a 40-37 lead. Crawford was back to blanket Woudenberg and it became obvious for SCA to have a chance someone else would have to step up. That someone was Ashley Frank, who buried a three, and then after VC's Sara Visser connected on a long ball, Frank nailed another one and SCA was back up.

Visser had been cold throughout the game, but down the stretch there was no doubt whose hands VC wanted the ball in.

Head Coach Scott Timmer began subbing VC players for offense and defense consistently with more than 3:00 to go in the game, and his gameplan worked. As SCA led 48-46 with just over 2:00 to go Woudenberg broke a wicked crossover dribble and appeared to have a lane to the basket. Only she didn't have the ball. Shamara Smith, who had been inserted seconds before for her defense, stole the ball and gave VC, and Visser, a chance.

"We asked Sara to go out and do what she does best, and that's shoot the ball. She loves to win big games." Timmer said. After missing the first six three point shots she took Visser connected on two of three in the fourth including one off the Smith steal that gave VC the lead with 1:45 left.

After an SCA miss VC quickly put the ball in Visser's hands, and the Eagles were forced to foul. Visser calmly stepped to the line and gave her team a three-point lead by hitting both charity shots. SCA had two shots to tie, but neither connected and after Crawford grabbed a lose ball she quickly found Visser who was again fouled and again hit both her free throws to ice the win 53-48.

"I love the pressure." Sara said after the game, "I was pretty cold to start, but you don't think about that, you just go out and play." Visser's 16 (10 in the fourth) tied her with Hanenberg for VC's team high, but this was truly a game where a total team effort was needed and VC (13-1) got it. Woudenberg would finish with a game high 28 for SCA (14-6).

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