With Christmas approaching, there was a festive air about the East Valley Holiday Classic, a girls basketball tournament.
The Classic is the first of several holiday tournaments hosted by area high schools during the two-week break from classes.
Plenty of presents were unwrapped in the form of trophies awarded to free-throw and three-point shooting champions, all-tournament selections and the tourney most valuable player.
And teams in the championship game, EV and Lakeside, also caught the holiday spirit. No Scrooges there.
Lakeside won its second straight Holiday Classic championship over the host Knights 37-35 in a game notable for generosity on both sides.
Neither team led by more than four points at any time in the game, helping the other with turnovers and errant shooting.
Lakeside had an eight-point run late in the fourth quarter that made a winner of Valley product and Eagle coach Lisa (Comstock) Schultz for the second year.
Schultz is a West Valley High graduate who started Lakeside’s basketball program and has guided it to two successive State A tournament appearances.
Her team beat the Knights without overdoing it. Lakeside made just over a quarter of its shots, many of them easy layin opportunities.
“We played a minute and one-half,” she said. “Right now our shooters don’t have confidence.”
East Valley accepted that present and gave another, 33 turnovers that enabled Lakeside to rally from several four-point deficits, including 31-27 midway through the final quarter.
Half a dozen missed free throws by EV, including two with 11 seconds remaining also helped the champs.
“We didn’t put our free throws in and turnovers killed us,” said Knight coach Darsi Frazier, adding one other charitable tidbit. “We were minus Angela (Overdorff, out with illness) and have not played a game with all our starters in the lineup.
“When we do I think we’ll be pretty tough.”
Knights Star Olson and Farrah Parsley, who missed EV’s first three games, were named to the alltournament team.
Lakeside’s Schultz said she loves the festive atmosphere of East Valley’s tournament.
“You have the three-point contests, the free-throw contests and get hardware. The girls like that,” she said. “There are quality teams and it’s a nicely run tournament. It gets us ready for league.”
She was also complimentary of the Knights, who, she said, outplayed her team despite losing.
“We need the Christmas break,” said Schultz.
In time for the girls to take their presents and enjoy the real spirit of the season.
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