Winning your own holiday basketball tournament is kinda like giving yourself your own Christmas present.
That’s just what the Red Mountain High School and Arcadia High girls’ basketball teams did – but neither seems to be apologetic for being such lousy hosts.
Actually, Arcadia was the only one of the two that won an actual title, beating Desert Mountain High School, 54-34, in the championship game of the 8th annual Lady Titan Classic right after Christmas.
The Red Mountain Holiday Classic doesn’t offer a tournament title, but the Mountain Lions ran the table at their own event by winning all four games they played. They opened the tourney with a 20-point win over Campo Verde High School and then took on a California school, Mission Prep, winning that game by 14.
Cienega High, which made the trip from Vail, proved to be the toughest challenge. The Lions held on for a 39-35 victory before closing out with a 54-17 romp over Tucson’s Ironwood Ridge High School.
That final game against Ironwood Ridge was pretty much over by halftime when Red Mountain went to the locker room with a 35-14 lead. It gave the Mesa school a chance to get some playing time for those on the bench that aren’t on the floor that often. The entire roster got worthwhile minutes to help prepare for the first game of the new year, Thursday against in-town rival Mountain View High.
After a four-game losing streak during the first half of December, Red Mountain was able to use its four tourney wins to boost its season record to 10-4.
Arcadia might have preferred to be playing in the Red Mountain tournament instead of hosting its own. That would have given the Titans a chance to avenge their only loss of the season. Arcadia, the No. 3-ranked team in the 5A Conference, lost a 60-53 decision to Red Mountain, the No. 8 team in 6A, during the Moon Valley Invitational. Red Mountain went on to win that event, played during the Thanksgiving holidays.
The tournament wins weren’t as critical for Arcadia, but the five wins during the three-day, 24-team event has boosted its overall record to 15-1 and extended to 12 games its latest winning streak, which began Nov. 29 with a blow-out 89-10 win over Glendale High.
In the title game win over Desert Mountain (11-4), the Titans’ offense was fueled by a couple of 16-point performances from the team’s co-captains, junior guard Bryce Nixon and junior wing Cassidy Campbell. Lauren Dib, the 6’0″ junior post, also finished in double figures with 12 points.
Arcadia took a commanding 33-15 lead at the half and the Wolves were unable to get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
Desert Mountain’s junior point guard Rayah Craig, who leads the team in scoring with 16 points a game, put up 17 points in the losing effort.