Camp Verde High School girls basketball head coach Mark Showers witnessed a hallmark moment of growth from his young team over the weekend.
Defending Conference 3A champion Valley Christian High School took it to the Cowboys in the first quarter of the championship game of the two-day Phoenix Country Day School Desert Classic, going up 20-8.
Instead of folding, the group, made up of one junior, seven sophomores and a freshman, decided to fight back. Despite losing 52-30, Showers could not have been happier.
“They got all over us, which was perfect, because the kids had to decide: Either they’re going to step up and play this team tough or they’re going to give up,” Showers said. “To me the biggest takeaway from the tournament is that when the chips were down they didn’t give up.”
Such was his sentiment for the tournament as a whole. The five games allowed playing time for all nine players, and against different defenses.
The character quality of the week for the Cowboys was “improvement,” coinciding with what they did across the five games.
The team worked on its offensive sets and its zone defense. One area of dissatisfaction was with execution of sideline and inbound plays.
On an individual level, the play of sophomore guards Amanda Lozanilla and Tanna Decker were of note. Decker, the team’s main ballhandler, and Lozanilla were tested against the Valley Christian Trojans.
So was sophomore center Jacy Finley.
“[Lozanilla and Decker] didn’t back down; they really became more hard-nosed I think,” Showers said. “[Finley] really physically toughened up. A few times in the Valley Christian game she followed her own shot up and they tried to push her around and she pushed back. It was good to see.”
The tournament began with pool play on Dec. 1, defeating Tonopah Valley High School 62-36 before handily beating the host Eagles 41-17.
The team clinched first place from its pool with a 56-13 win against the Salome High School Frogs. Saturday morning’s semifinal saw the Cowboys defeat Horizon Honors High School 45-24.