|Members of the Camp Verde girls basketball team pose with the Point Loma girls basketball Summer Slam team camp and tournament plaque after going 5â€“0 and winning the tournament. Photo courtesy of Camp Verde girls basketball|
Camp Verde head coach Mark Showers has been in the coaching game a long time. He has had many different types of teams that have had different levels of success through the season, but they have not gone undefeated when attending the Point Loma team camp.
"I always figure if we go .500, that's good," Showers said. "A lot of the times we're playing, most of the time, the schools that we play in San Diego are 1,500 students or more. We're usually the smallest team in the tournament and the numbers game is difficult to overcome, so if we win a couple games we feel pretty good."
The unblemished record in San Diego reflects the work the core group that Showers is returning from the 2013-14 season has put in since season ended. The Cowboys lost four seniors, two that were starters, and return four juniors (now seniors) that saw significant time on the court. One of those juniors, Mariah Daniels, has become one of the pillars of Camp Verde's offense and defense. Complimenting Daniels is junior Dusty Dowdle. Both of the Cowboys have been working to develop into a fearsome combo under the basket and showed off their progress in Sothern California.
"Dusty and Mariah were beasts under the baskets," Showers said. "They controlled the boards on offense and defense, got some put-backs on offense, especially Mariah did. Dusty got some offensive rebounds and kicked it back out to our guards, so they were really tough. Really tough."
It was not that long ago that head coach Mark Showers said winning in the summer does not matter, just improving and coming together as a team. Well, winning may not be the Cowboys' biggest concern, but being able to add a trophy to their collection does not hurt either.
The trophy was nice, but it was the way the girls won the trophy that really impressed Showers, with a mental toughness that has escaped the Cowboys at times during the summer.
"It wasn't something we expected but the kids performed, not just well, but they were tough, I mean mentally tough, and that's one of the things we've had a problem with in the summer time," Showers said. "They've just come off doing other sports, they're not focused on basketball and they were mentally tough. I was very impressed with that."
With renewed mental strength, the Cowboys were able to get opportunities and win balls that they normally would not have through second efforts and chances. From grabbing offensive and defensive boards to put backs and loose balls, the Cowboys were there to impress.
"That's a symptom of mental toughness, the second effort," Showers said. "... There were loose balls that ordinarily we wouldn't get, the other team would get them, or there were rebounds that we wouldn't get or there were stops on defense that we wouldn't get and the kids got them this time. Their second efforts were incredible in this tournament and it showed that they're growing in their mental toughness."