Chaparral girls basketball advances to state finals with narrow win over Arcadia

Chaparral guard Anna Ostlie tries to keep the ball away from Arcadia guard Jada DuBois during Chaparral’s 58-54 win in the 5A state semifinals at Wells Fargo Arena. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

Throughout the 2017-18 season, the Arcadia High School girls basketball team looked dominant but one team seemed to be a bane to the Titans’ success: Chaparral High School.

No. 1 Chaparral continued that grip over No. 5 Arcadia with a 58–54 win in the 5A state semifinals at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe Tuesday, Feb. 20. This was the third time the Firebirds have defeated the Titans this season.

Chaparral Head Coach Brian Porth said even though there was a sense of familiarity between the opponents, his team didn’t get complacent.

“I don’t think the girls took for granted the opportunity given that we won the previous two,” he said after the game. “Neither one of them was given to us but I do think those ones helped prepare us for a close game down the stretch here.”

Arcadia wing Taylor Houser drives past the Chaparral defense during Chaparral’s 58-54 win in the 5A state semifinals at Wells Fargo Arena. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

A close game was exactly what this semifinal matchup was throughout most of the game.

After three lead changes in the first quarter, Arcadia took a 20–10 lead early in the second after a 15–2 run. Chaparral whittled that lead down to one point by scoring nine straight points late in the second but the Titans maintained control, leading 29–24 at halftime.

Arcadia Head Coach Ivez Machiz said the key to Arcadia’s second-quarter push was patience.

“We played really good defense then we got the ball. We got our transition game going a little bit but then we were patient on offense and then we hustled back on defense,” he said after the game. “We executed our game plan, basically.”

After halftime, Chaparral improved its shooting and continued chopping at the Arcadia lead until the Firebirds reclaimed it late in the third quarter. From then on, Chaparral maintained control, fending off Arcadia’s attempts at mounting a comeback.

Chaparral guard Maddie Vick said this third-quarter push was a turning point for the team both in energy and execution.

The Titans did tie the game at 51 late in the fourth quarter but guard Anna Ostlie made a 3-point basket to give Chaparral the lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Coach Porth said he thought his team played with more composure and applied a stronger defense in the third quarter, which led to the turnaround. He said it wasn’t that Chaparral wasn’t getting the shot it wanted early on, it just struggled making those shots.

Chaparral guard Anna Ostlie (14) stares down Arcadia guard Dylan Watkiss during Chaparral’s 58-54 win in the 5A state semifinals at Wells Fargo Arena. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

Still, he said his team was patient and kept working for the best shot. This manifested itself as the Firebirds went from 9-of-27 field goal shooting in the first half to 11-of-17 field goal shooting.

“Those are important milestones for a team, emotionally,” Coach Porth said.

Vick led all scorers with 19 points and Ostlie followed with 18 points on 4-of-8 3-point shooting. Guard Bryce Nixon scored 17 points to lead a group of four Arcadia players with double-digit points.

With the loss, the Titans end their season with just four losses, three of which came from Chaparral. When reviewing the entire season, Coach Machiz said his team had success even if it couldn’t get past Chaparral.

“I’m proud of the girls,” he said. “They worked hard, they did everything they could in every game but sometimes in sports you don’t get the final prize.”

The Firebirds advance to the state finals Tuesday, Feb. 27 at the Wells Fargo Arena to face No. 2 Mesquite High School, the defending state champions. This is a rematch of last year’s semifinals where Mesquite defeated Chaparral en route to its state championship.

Vick said advancing to the finals feels “amazing” but the Firebirds’ work is not complete.

“We still have one more game and there is no doubt in my mind that we will come out ready to compete,” she said.

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

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