Jan. 4, 2006 - If the coming year is as fruitful as the last, the Ironwood Ridge High School girl's basketball team can expect big things to come.
The Nighthawks captured the championship of the 13th Annual Santa Cruz Shootout Holiday Basketball Tournament with a 49-38 win over Agua Fria High School on Dec. 30.
Center Lindsey Miller scored 15 points and helped the Nighthawks (10-5) to the win over the Lady Owls. The senior was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player for her effort in the Nighthawks' four wins.
"I've been wanting this for so long," said Miller. "I've been in this tournament every year since I was a freshman. It's great to come all this way and win it."
Held from Dec. 27 through Dec. 30, the Santa Cruz Shootout pitted 37 boys and girls teams from Arizona, New Mexico and even Canada against one another. Game sites were split between Pueblo and Ironwood Ridge high schools.
The Nighthawks advanced to the title game with wins over Desert Christian High School, Catalina Foothills High School and Michael Power (Canada) High School.
"They are becoming a little bit more basketball savvy," said Ironwood Ridge head coach Gary Crane about his team. Before the tournament, Crane switched to a match-up zone defense. The results were immediate with a convincing 38-16 win over a solid Foothills girl's team.
The championship, in a tournament they co-host with Pueblo, avenges a loss in last year's championship game to Deming (N.M.) High School.
The Foothills boys team advanced to the semifinals before bowing out to Amphi High School. The Falcons finished the tourney with a 2-1 record, including a 64-50 win over Canyon Del Oro High School.
The Santa Cruz Shootout shared the holiday hoops scene with the Flowing Wells Shootout.
The girl's squad from CDO may have provided the highlight of the Flowing Wells tournament with a 54-50 come-from-behind win over Desert Vista High School on Dec. 29 in the third place game.
CDO erased a first-half deficit that saw the Dorados fall behind by as much as 15 points twice. Trannette Brunson and Kelly Zimmerman helped fuel the Dorados' second-half surge, outscoring the Lady Thunder 21-10 in the fourth quarter. Brunson scored the first nine points for CDO in the fourth quarter, erasing a seven point Thunder lead in less than two minutes. Zimmerman put the Dorados up for good with a lay up with three minutes remaining. Brunson finished the game with 20 points, most coming after the shooting guard missed some action after sustaining an accidental blow to the head, courtesy of a Desert Vista player. Zimmerman led all scorers with 21 points.
"I guess you can say I got the scoring knocked into me," said Brunson, who connected for three 3-pointers during the contest.
The Dorados finished the tournament in third place, behind first place Flowing Wells High School and second place Gilbert Mesquite.
The Nighthawks and Dorados will meet for the first time on Jan. 13 at CDO and follow that up with a Jan. 26 game at Ironwood Ridge.