The Canyon Del Oro High School girls’ basketball team is 20-1, outscoring opponents 1,186-667 overall, and hasn’t lost a game since early December.
Still, according to standout senior guard Nadi Carey, head coach Keri Brown doesn’t hesitate to let her team know when they could be better.
“If we’re playing like crap, she’ll tell us,” said Carey with a smile.
Luckily for the Dorados, there weren’t a lot of negatives for the coach to point out in their 50-24 victory over Cholla on Friday night.
CDO’s fast-paced, high-pressure defense stifled the Chargers’ offensive attack, allowing four points in the first period and two points in the second for a 21-6 CDO lead at halftime.
On the outside, the quickness of CDO’s guards – seniors Kala Stepter, Balle Pennington, Nicole Ruiz, Ally Tapia, Carey, and junior Jennifer Thompson — enabled the Dorados to shut down passing lanes, leading to interceptions and fast breaks for CDO.
“We emphasize not reaching in,” said Brown. “But a lot of it is our foot speed.”
The Dorados’ defense under the basket was similarly impenetrable, as senior forward Sarah Batterton and junior Sydney Lewis smothered Cholla’s Danielle Rico and Carissa Franco, preventing points from the low post.
Lewis was also CDO’s leading scorer, notching 14 points gained mostly from a physical presence in the paint.
Equally deadly from the outside, senior point guard Charde Mayne hit two long three-pointers and finished with 12 points.
Mayne controlled the game’s tempo, using court vision to either slow or speed up the pace, and threading precision passes to open teammates.
The combination of ironclad defense and controlling, intense offensive play has given the Dorados something other than wins – the #1 rank in 4A-I.
For the coach, the success of the team is not only in the X’s and O’s, but also something more basic.
“It’s the IQ that’s out there on the floor,” said Brown with a smile. “I’ve just got some straight up DNA out there.”
CDO is already tops in the 4A Sonoran Division, having, “already beaten (second-place Marana) twice this year,” said Brown. “So we’re good to go.”
While not looking past their final two games against Marana and Pueblo, the Dorados are certainly aware of who will be waiting at the state tournament beginning Feb. 17.
“There’s some good Phoenix teams, a lot of good basketball going on up there,” said Brown.
One of those teams is Phoenix Shadow Mountain, the only team to beat CDO in the regular season so far, 48-30, on Dec. 13.
Despite the high level of competition awaiting the Dorados, Brown is confident in her team’s ability and track record.
“They’re quick, they’re fast,” said Brown. “And they take care of business.”