Koi Love, Maria Alvarez step up down stretch to lift Miami Country Day to Nike TOC title

Dan Olson

Miami Country Day won its four games at the Nike Tournament of Champions by an average of 3.5 points.

PHOENIX -- Maria Alvarez, Koi Love and Miami Country Day found themselves down by 10 against Windward late in the championship game of the Nike Tournament of Champions Saturday.

Time to panic? Nope. Time to do what they do best.

Love, a Vanderbilt signee, went to work on the glass and scored on back-to-back plays to cut the lead to six with 1:49 remaining.

Alvarez, stifled by Windward's denying defense for much of the game, finally freed herself with 1:03 remaining to hit a 3-pointer and draw Miami Country Day within three. After Miami Country Day forced a turnover, Alvarez, a South Florida signee, hit another 3 from the top of the key to tie the game, 50-50, with 39 seconds left.

A Charisma Osborne free throw gave Windward the 51-50 lead with 27 seconds to play.

Freshman Sydney Shaw's jumper rimmed out in the final seconds, but Love was there for the putback to give MCDS the 52-51 win and the Clare Droesch Division title.

"It was difficult to play four games in four days on this type of stage, but we grew up fast," coach Ochiel Swaby said. "I'm so proud of all of them."

Alvarez, whose four-point play against New Hope Academy sent Miami Country Day to the final, was named MVP after proving she's one of the best long-distance shooters in the country. Not to mention one of the most clutch. The Spartans won their four games by an average of 3.5 points.

Expect Miami Country Day, which arrived in Phoenix ranked 22nd in the espnW 25 Power Rankings, to surge in the Week 3 rankings next week. The Spartans knocked off No. 1 St. John's College on Day 2.

Fresh face: Kennedy Basham, a 6-foot-5 freshman center at Pinnacle (Phoenix), is continuing to impress. The finesse center has a feathery touch in her face-up game, alters shots in the paint and keeps the ball up high vs. opposing defenders. Her potential is sky-high.

The Joe Smith all-tournament team: Alyssa Munn, Redondo Union (MVP); Calli Stokes, Redondo Union; Brooke Demetre, Mater Dei; Jana Van Gytenbeek, Cherry Creek; Raven White, Dillard; Anna Blount, St. Mary's-Stockton; Kasey Neubert, Highlands Ranch; Marisa Davis, Valley Vista; Ali Bamberger, Carondelet; Cailyn Crocker, Mater Dei; Jamaryn Blair, Bradley Central

The Clare Droesch all-tournament team: Maria Alvarez, Miami Country Day (MVP); Koi Love, Miami Country Day; Cavina Rickards, Christ the King; Jada Walker, New Hope Academy; Charisma Osborne, Windward; McKayla Williams, Windward; Daejah Phillips, Centennial; Azzi Fudd, St. John's College; Cameron Brink, Southridge; Haley Jones, Archbishop Mitty; Latasha Lattimore, Crestwood Prep

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