After having reached the Division IV state finals in each of the two previous seasons, the Tempe Prep women’s basketball team bowed out in the quarterfinals of the 2014 state tournament.
To commence the tourney, the 12th-seeded Lady Knights won handily over Pima High School, the 21-seed, by a score of 52-20. Standout senior Camille Zimmerman led the way in the victory with an all-around superb performance, totaling 25 points, nine rebounds, five assists, eight steals, and seven blocks.
The subsequent matchup against Valley High School proved much more of a challenge, but dominant play by Zimmerman once again secured another tournament win. The Lady Knights emerged triumphant 59-50 over their opponents, as Zimmerman notched a double-double (38 points and 17 rebounds) and did much of her damage at the charity stripe: the senior converted an astounding 18 of 18 free throws.
Yet the season—as well as Zimmerman’s illustrious Tempe Prep career—came to a halt in the quarterfinals, as eventual champions Gilbert Christian knocked the Lady Knights out of the tournament by a tally of 50-36. TPA fell behind early in the contest, going into halftime with a 10-point deficit. A spirited fourth-quarter comeback found the Lady Knights within five points late in the final quarter, but a 13-4 Gilbert Christian run thereafter sealed the loss.
Zimmerman’s performance is often representative of her team’s, and such was the case in the final game of the season: Zimmerman only made 4 field goals on 29 attempts, and the Lady Knights shot a woeful 18% as a team. But Zimmerman affirmed that Tempe Prep’s poor play was not so much a result of overwhelming defense by Gilbert Christian. “We had a lot of open shots, we had a lot of good looks at the basket…it was just an off day.”
Despite failing to make it past the quarterfinal round, Coach Calahan remained resolute in viewing the season as a very successful one. “Though we did not reach our goal of a state championship, we were very pleased with our advancement to the Elite Eight. With lots of sickness, nagging injuries and academic issues, we faced many obstacles along our journey.”
Zimmerman echoed her coach’s sentiments, and pointed to a loss against Salt River High School that galvanized the team, after which it went 8-1 to close out the season. “We had a rough start to the season, but we definitely got better. I think our big turnaround point was our first Salt River game in January, which we did lose by one point, but that was one of the best games we saw everyone play so far. And then from there on, we started having a lot of people score in games and very high-scoring games.”
*Published on March 24th.