The turning point for the Camp Verde girls basketball team happened in the third game of the Round Valley tournament. Down 13-points going into the fourth quarter against Morenci, the Cowboys went on a 19-7 run and just missed winning the game on a last second shot that hit the back of the rim and then bounced out. But that effort, which got the Cowboys to within two, changed their momentum and the Cowboys went on to win the consolation championship game on Saturday.
Camp Verde played six games in three days in the Round Valley tournament from Thursday through Saturday. Their first opponent was former region foe, St. John's. The Cowboys dominated the game and won, 62-36. Sherry Dutton and Jo Jo Garner each scored 14 points in the win.
"I was excited about the match up," said coach Mark Showers. "We were able to defend them well and got after them."
The next game they played was against Alchesay from Whiteriver, AZ. A 3A East school proved too much for the Cowboys. Alchesay and Camp Verde came out mostly even in the first half, with the Cowboys trailing by only two at the half. In the second half, Alchesay doubled its lead to four after three quarters and pulled away with a 14-8 run in the fourth for the 48-38 win.
"Alchesay played real aggressive and actually kept us on our heels," said coach Showers.
Cassie Spleiss led the Cowboys with 10 points, followed by Garner with eight and Cherreia Reeves with eight.
With a record of 1-1 after the first day, the Cowboys didn't look as sharp as they should as a State Runner-up team from last year and coach Showers knew this.
In a rematch from last year's quarterfinal game in the State playoffs, the Cowboys faced Morenci. The Cowboys started out weak, leaving off where they ended against Alchesay the previous game.
"I was concerned," said coach Showers. The Cowboys were down by 13 points going into the fourth quarter. "I told the team that we needed to play more consistent and be more aggressive."
The pep talk worked. The Cowboys went on a 19-7 rampage. With the ball in their hands with five seconds lost, one more shot was taken from the 3-point range and Reeves just missed the bull's eye. Morenci held on for the win, but the Cowboys had gotten their confidence back and they were ready to play.
Spleiss led the Cowboys with 11 points.
Down 1-2 in their record for the tournament, the Cowboys went on a winning streak. Their next opponent was Valley Christian, a 1A school. The Cowboys had no problems handling the weaker team, outscoring Az Lutheran 25-9 in the first quarter.
After that, Camp Verde let up and cruised through the game to get the 68-20 win. Jamie Cupp scored 12 points to lead the team, followed by Harriet Mitchell with 11 and Leahla Garcia with 10. Garcia was impressive especially since her doctor released her just two weeks ago after having ACL surgery in August.
At 2-2, the Cowboys entered their final day of play on Saturday against Ysleta out of Texas. They, like Morenci was a very aggressive team, but he Cowboys were on a roll.
"Once we got into a rhythm, they struggled to score," said coach Showers.
After a tied first quarter, the Cowboys started to pull away, up by three at the half. In the third quarter, the Cowboys went on a 10-1 run and then outscored Ysleta 12-6 in the fourth for the 41-24 win.
Dutton led the team with nine points, followed by Garner with seven and Reeves with seven.
That win put the Camp Verde team into the Consolation Championship game against Valley Sanders, which was a rematch of last year's semifinal game in the State tournament.
The Cowboys came out strong in the first quarter, outscoring Valley Sanders 13-9. They extended their lead in the second quarter with a 15-2 run to lead 28-11 at the half.
Valley Sanders didn't give up and came out in the third quarter and scored 21 points to the Cowboys' 12 to come to within eight points. Camp Verde remained focused and kept their lead through the fourth quarter for the win.
Jessica Regan and Cassie Spleiss led the Cowboys with 10 points apiece, followed by Liz Hicks with nine.
The Cowboys finished with a 4-2 record in the tournament, bettering their record from last year's team, which finished at 3-3. Spleiss was chosen as part of the All-Tournament team.
"The main thing we wanted to do is really work on our half court zone," said coach Showers. "Good opportunity to work on that defense and the other thing we did was work on consistency. As a group, we were able to play solid defense, able to do the things whether its fast break or run offense, no matter who is in the game. The kids really responded well. There wasn't anything real flashy; the kids just did a solid job across the board. Good foundation for us to build on for rest of the season."
The Cowboys traveled to Mingus Union on Tuesday for a Verde Valley match up. They will travel to Phoenix Country Day on Friday for their first region game in the 2A Central. The Cowboys are 7-2 overall.