Danielle Craft’s out-of-town grandparents came a long way to see her play last weekend but it was worth it as Craft walked away with MVP honors after helping Ponderosa capture the Jan Vitell Tournament title after its 60-39 victory over host El Dorado Saturday night.
Craft bucketed 19 points after a 28-point outburst Friday to compliment 10 from Ashley Beck and Maddie Clayton as the Lady Bruins built a second quarter lead against the Cougars and held it the rest of the way. Beck and Morgan Martinenko were also named to the All Tournament team.
El Dorado, which pulled double duty with four games in two days after Johnson dropped out, landed point guard Sabrina Tate and Hannah Dixon as All Tournament picks.
“Every time we play El Dorado it’s a grind and a pace we’re uncomfortable with so kudos to them,” Bruin coach Noel O’Donnell said. “I never felt we were in danger (of losing) but it did get scary close a few times. In the end we got the job done.”
Ponderosa’s biggest lead was the final margin. Twice the Cougars crept within 11 in the second half only to have the Bruins extend. Beck and Craft each scored five in the fourth as Ponderosa pulled away.
“We were a little fumbly in the first half but we held it together in the last half,” Beck said. “Our goal was to win the tournament and overall we played well as a team.”
Craft scored eight in the first quarter and six in the second. Clayton scored eight of her 10 in the second as the Bruins led 36-20 at the break.
El Dorado stayed within striking distance behind Tate (11 points), Dixon, Madi Zuber, Shelby Ganzert and Kylie Haverson.
“We’re young but we’ve come a long ways and we’re just now adjusting to the faster pace,” Zuber said. “We started slow (tonight) but came back and everyone did a good job putting it out and contributing.”
Having played earlier, facing Ponderosa — and fatigue — was a real test for the Cougars.
“Obviously that was the hard part because we were a little tired but I thought we did a nice job accepting the challenge and knowing what was in front of us,” El Dorado coach Pat Winter said. “We were a little soft in the first half so I challenged them at halftime and we were more aggressive and made a game of it.”
Notes: Craft recorded double-double scoring/rebounding all three games. Among the alumni sightings over the weekend: Christine Harms, Cora Harms, Mikaela Macklin, Ali Best, Nick Webber from El Dorado; Sarah Tanner from Ponderosa.