The Ironwood Ridge girls’ basketball team finished runner-up in the seventh annual Northwest Desert Classic tournament, hosted at Pusch Ridge from Dec. 26 to 28.
The Nighthawks (10-4) had gone undefeated in their prior three games, defeating Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep, Mesa Desert Ridge, and Tucson High before facing the would-be champion in Chandler team Seton Catholic (15-1), losing 51-44 in overtime on Saturday.
Led by the 18 points of Seton Catholic’s senior Heather Heild, the Sentinels found themselves up three points with 10 seconds left in regulation, but Ironwood’s Lexy Ram drained a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Nighthawks revived hope.
That hope gradually dwindled as the Nighthawks continually struggled to find a basket in overtime, thanks in large part to the aggressive defense of the Sentinels, which forced Ironwood Ridge into some unfavorable shots and allowed only four points in the final period. That combined with Heild’s eight overtime points was enough to give the Sentinels the win and the championship.
Ram led the Nighthawks with 10 points, while Casey Wortley followed up an 11-point performance against Mesa Desert Ridge with eight points.
The Sentinels win adds to an impressive resume for Seton Catholic head coach Karen Self, who has six state championships and three runner-up finishes in her time with the school.
Despite the loss, the Nighthawks, under second-year head coach Nikki Simpson, are off to their best start since the 2010-2011 school year.
In other action, the Canyon Del Oro girls’ team finished third place in the tournament, defeating Notre Dame Prep 49-35. The Dorados jumped out to a 28-19 first half thanks to 16 combined points from Sammy Nettling and Alicia Vallejos, and finished the game with a 19-8 run.
Nettling would go on to finish with a team-high 12 points and Vallejos had 10.
In boys’ basketball, which was played in round robin format and did not feature a championship game, CDO went undefeated alongside Cholla High School.
For full results, visit www.northwestdesertclassic.com.