Palo Verde’s girls basketball team had reason to be tired Tuesday afternoon.
The Panthers, who saw action in only three games in the first three weeks of the basketball season, were playing their fourth game in 30 hours.
And they couldn’t have been sharper.
Moving as well defensively as they had in the tournament, the Panthers stifled Durango, 56-22 in a quarterfinal game at the Sierra Vista Invitational.
“We finally got after it defensively,” said Palo Verde coach Phil Clarke, whose team improved to 6-1 overall, including a 62-44 win over host Sierra Vista on Tuesday morning. “We were a lot smarter. We played without the hand-checking and we moved well.”
Palo Verde played only one game before jumping into its Northwest League schedule last week with wins over Faith Lutheran and Mojave.
They’ll play at least five games in the three-day tournament at Sierra Vista and another four in the Nike Tournament of Champions next week in Phoenix.
“Our preseason is really coming after the league season started,” Clarke said. “We haven’t had a lot of time to work on things. This is great for us.”
Palo Verde anticipated well, jumped in passing lanes, and disrupted Durango’s offense during a 41-6 run that allowed the Panthers to take a 47-12 lead in the third quarter.
“Our defense is what starts our offense,” said Clarke, whose team battled foul trouble in the first three games of the tournament, but played cleaner defense against Durango. “They finally woke up a little bit. If we’re going to beat the better teams, we have to play well defensively.”
The Panthers also couldn’t have been much more balanced offensively, with six players scoring between seven and 10 points.
Jasmin Kiley and Samantha Wayne each tallied 10 points, and Lily Tapusoa and Dominique Bryant added nine points apiece.
“That’s our biggest thing,” Clarke said. “In our first three games, we had three different leading scorers. If we can get a lot of people contributing, it makes us more difficult to defend. You can stop one person, but it’s harder to stop five people.”
Marley Sandoval led the Trailblazers with 11 points.
Sierra Vista 51, Green Valley 46 — Jeanette Jackson scored the final eight points of the game to rally the Mountain Lions into the semifinals.
Jackson poured in 30 points, including a 6 of 6 effort from the free-throw line in the final 90 seconds.
Shavon Stevens led the Gators with 14 points, and Mackenzie Butler scored 10 for Green Valley, which trailed 14-4 in the first quarter.
Page (Ariz.) 50, Chaparral 31 — The Sand Devils used a 21-4 first-quarter run to punch their semifinal ticket.
Jacquie Ferguson led Chaparral with 18 points.
Rialto (Calif.) 78, Arbor View 17 — Janae Sharpe scored 17 of her 31 points in the second quarter as Rialto rolled past the Aggies.
Dana Lewis scored seven points for Arbor View.
Palo Verde 62, Sierra Vista 44 — Kiley had 19 points, including five 3-pointers, and the Panthers outscored the Mountain Lions 35-19 in the middle two quarters on their way to the win.
Tapusoa added 14 points, and Amoruso scored 11 for Palo Verde.
Jackson led Sierra Vista with 19 points, and Melia Tadytin added 10 points.
Green Valley 56, Durango 47 — Butler had 25 points, and the Gators used a 17-0 run in the first half to build a big lead and hold off the Trailblazers.
Green Valley led 25-7 before Durango stormed back with 16 straight points.
Jasmine Thomas led the Trailblazers with 15 points, and teammate Cindy Klinhom scored 12.
Page (Ariz.) 42, Arbor View 20 — Celest Claw had 14 points, and the Sand Devils grabbed a 26-10 halftime lead on their way to the win over the Aggies.
Jena Valenzuela scored 16 points for Arbor View.
Rialto (Calif.) 110, Chaparral 21 — Rialto used a trapping press to build a 97-11 lead after three quarters before a running clock was used in the final quarter.
Coronado 99, Mojave 82 — Adam Schmitt scored 31 points as the Cougars advanced to the semifinals by running past the Rattlers.
Michael Louder chipped in 23 points for Coronado, which led 57-39 at the half. Austin Nelson added 18 points, and Jared Culbert scored 14 for the Cougars.
Andrew Lotts paced Mojave with 32 points. Joseph Jenkins scored 13 points, and Deon Walters added 10 points for the Rattlers.
Sierra Vista 74, Rancho 41 — Maiscei Grier scored 18 points, and the Mountain Lions got out to a 31-14 first-quarter lead and advanced to the semifinals.
Gary Jacobs and Viko Noma’aea each added 12 points for Sierra Vista.
Chris Hall tallied 21 points for Rancho.
Spring Valley 57, Silverado 53 — Deshaun Nowlin’s 19 points helped the Grizzlies grab a semifinal berth.
Sean Clancey scored 15 for Spring Valley.
Ruben Jackson’s 28 points led the Skyhawks.
Cimarron-Memorial 58, Lynwood (Calif.) 48 — Erik Brewer tallied 14 points, and Cimarron broke open a game it led only 35-34 after three quarters to eliminate Lynwood.
Christian Brown added 13 points, and Deijon Spillers scored 11 for Cimarron.
Coronado 56, Spring Valley 47 — Culbert scored all 12 of his points in the second half as the Cougars rallied from a 24-20 halftime deficit in a pool-play game.
Nelson paced Coronado with 15 points, and Schmitt scored 10.
Clancey led the Grizzlies with 10 points.
Cimarron-Memorial 78, Rancho 50 — Brewer led a balanced attack with 15 points as the Spartans completed pool play with a rout of the Rams.
Marques Barnes scored 13 points, Spillers added 12, and Mussie Gebremeskel supplied 10 for Cimarron.
Hall scored 14 points and Ciaran Subira 13 for Rancho.
Sierra Vista 82, Lynwood (Calif.) 69 — Grier and Noma’aea combined for 53 points as the Mountain Lions held off Lynwood.
Grier scored 28 and Noma’aea 25 for Sierra Vista, which got 12 points from Xavier Rogers.
Brandon Melendez had 23 points for Lynwood.
Silverado 61, Mojave 49 — David Ware tallied 14 points, and the Skyhawks sprinted to a 22-6 first-quarter lead before holding off the Rattlers.
Justin Johnson added 12 points for Silverado.
Lotts paced Mojave with 24 points.