The Sunrise Mountain girls’ basketball team came up short in its title run, as the Mustangs fell 59-30 to Millennium in the 2020 AIA Girls Basketball 5A State Championship final.
The Mustangs held tough early, competing on defense against the significantly-larger Tigers. Sunrise Mountain played fast and moved the ball up the floor quickly in transition. The result was a competitive quarter, and the Tigers led just 15-12 after the first period.
“They got out and ran the floor really well to start the game,” Millennium coach Courtland Rojeck said of the Mustangs, “And we didn’t do it too well.”
But, Millennium settled down and showed why it was the defending champion, starting out the second period on a 16-2 run by dominating the paint on both offense and defense. Even on missed shots, the Lady Tigers came up with offensive rebounds, resulting in more scoring opportunities.
“Those second-chance points we gave up killed us. We played them pretty well off screens and things like that, but it was them getting those second and third looks at the basket was tough for us to deal with, and it has a lot to do with their size,” Sunrise Mountain coach Jenn Tolle said.
The Tigers pulled ahead and never looked back. A buzzer-beating three-pointer by Tiger sophomore Trayanna Crisp made the lead 40-18 at the half.
The rout continued, as Sunrise Mountain scored just five points in the second quarter while the Tigers poured 13. Millennium’s depth of solid defenders forced the Mustangs into turnovers and tough shot attempts, while their rebounders limited defensive possessions to a single shot. The lead was 30 heading into the fourth quarter and the teams played with a running mercy clock.
Even with the game all but decided, Tolle was proud of the way the Mustangs continued to compete and hustle on both ends to show team pride.
And, while the experience ended with a disappointing loss, it was a treat for the players to experience a championship game atmosphere before the large crowd at Arizona State’s Desert Financial Arena. Tolle believes Sunrise Mountain, with just two seniors graduating from the varsity roster, will use the taste of a title match to fuel them in the years moving forward.
“For them to come here and play in this kind of environment, and see what it’s like, I hope it’s something they gain a lot of wisdom from,” Tolle said. “and then hopefully it helps us down the road if we get this opportunity again.”