Collins Hill Wins TOC
Nikki Urbizo
Nikki Urbizo
Full Court Press
Posted Dec 21, 2006


With the help of players like Nikki Urbizo, Collins Hill dispatched Long Beach Poly in the Nike Tournament of Champions finale and have the inside track on a first national championship.

PHOTOS BY GLENN NELSON

CHANDLER, Ariz. - Legendary college coach Al McGuire always made the case that the first four minutes of the second half were the most important minutes of the game - and Collins Hill provided the evidence Thursday afternoon at Hamilton High. The Eagles broke open a one-point game with an 18-2 run in the first 4:28 of the third period and, after surviving a belated Long Beach Poly rally, beat the Jackrabbits 75-61 in the championship of the top bracket at the Nike Tournament of Champions.

Collins Hill came into the tournament No. 2 in the Full Court Press rankings and No. 1 in USA Today, with Long Beach Poly reversing positions, so it was fitting that the two faced off in the title game of the tournament that, more than any other event, is likely to determine the national champion. And though Maya Moore was once again spectacular (31 points, great defense and big play after big play), the Eagles also got key contributions from Taylor Dalrymple (13 points) and Shakeda Richie (nine points).


Maya Moore of Collins Hill
In fact, it was Richie who scored the first two baskets of the third quarter to lengthen a 32-31 lead 36-31, but it was a trio of treys that effectively knocked Poly out of the national championship race. A pair of Moore jumpers sandwiched around Jasmine Dixon's drive had put the score at 40-33, still well within reach for the pressing, running Jackrabbits, but then Dalrymple, Nikki Urbizo and Moore nailed three straight three-pointers, and Poly never recovered.

A 7-2 run to start the fourth quarter pushed the margin to 27, and even though Poly showed heart with a 20-2 outburst of its own, it was not nearly enough.

Early in the second quarter, though, it didn't look as though Collins Hill, which lost just once last year, in the finals of this tournament, would need a second-half explosion to win. The Eagles jumped out to an 11-3 lead, and after the Jackrabbits came back to go ahead 12-11, a Jordan Jones three keyed a 13-2 run that put Collins Hill up 10. But foreshadowing the fourth quarter, Poly caught fire late to make it a one-point game going into the locker room.

Presumably, that set the stage for a riveting second half, but instead the third quarter turned into the Maya Moore highlight show. She scored 13 points of the Eagles' 29 points in the quarter, and then had five points in the first minue of the final period to seal the deal - despite Poly's late uprising.

Now what's left for Collins Hill is to take care of business in Seattle at the T-Mobile Invitational and then against top Georgia teams like South Gwinnett and Stephenson en route to what the Eagles hope is another state title and a first national championship. Of course, as long as Moore is healthy and out of foul trouble, it's going to be very hard for any high school team to beat her. The long-time observers of the girl's basketball scene who dot the stands at the Nike TOC agree that she is the most dominant high school player of this or any other era. Though Chamique Holdsclaw and Diana Taurasi were both tremendous at the prep level, neither played defense like Moore, and neither could win games in so many ways. At this tournament, Moore looked like a WNBA player going against high school girls, and as Mike Teasley of Notre Dame Academy said afterward, "She could do whatever she wanted."

What she really wanted to do was win, and with her, and the four-minute explosion to start the second half, that's exactly what Collins Hill did.



Lorin Dixon of Christ the King
Christ the King's aura of invincibility, which had been punctured Wednesday night, evaporated Thursday morning when Archbishop Mitty of San Jose dominated the Royals in the first half en route to a 50-37 victory. The back-to-back double-digit losses were the first for the Royals since the dawn of time, and could herald a sea change in New York City basketball. CtK's complete lack of halfcourt offense caught up to the Royals, as only Sky Lindsay seemed interested in shooting outside the paint, and Lorin Dixon's forays to the basket were greeted with a host of white shirts.

In the end, Christ the King was exposed as not quite up to the elite level, though still a very good team that no one could look forward to playing. Mitty, however, unheralded except by FCP, showed that it clearly belonged on the national stage. The Monarchs finished 3-1, losing only to Collins Hill, and Danielle Robinson proved to be Dixon's match in speed, and exhibited almost as much quickness -and outscored her 23-12. And most important, her team won.

Despite Long Beach Poly's loss, it was a good day all around for California, as Brea-Olinda, Bishop Montgomery, Huntington Beach and Ventura won their brackets, meaning only Collins Hill was able to break the Left Coast pattern. But then again, only Collins Hill had Maya Moore.



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Clay Kallam is the publisher of Full Court Press (www.Fullcourt.com), an online magazine devoted to women’s basketball. The author of the book “Girls Basketball: Building a Winning Program (Wish Publishing, 2002), Kallam has written about the women’s game for several national publications and is a voter for the McDonald’s All-American team, the Parade All-American team, the All-WNBA team and the Wooden Award. He is the coach of The Bentley School girls’ varsity basketball team and formerly wrote for the Contra Costa Times newspaper chain.




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