When Lyndsay Leikem picked up her third foul late in the first half of the championship game of the Flowing Wells Holiday Shootout, Caballeros coach Michael Perkins didn't take her out. He also didn't offer her any words of wisdom.
"She's such a high-level player; she knows what she's doing out there," Perkins said. "She knew she had to be smarter, and she was."
Leikem didn't commit a foul the rest of the game and scored a game-high 19 points as tournament host Flowing Wells beat Sahuaro 54-41 Friday night to claim the tournament title.
"I know how to play defense the right way, I just had to do it," said Leikem, who will play collegiately at Indiana next season.
"I can't swing my arms and pick up fouls, and that's what I was doing earlier.
"I'm really glad coach has the trust in me to leave me out there because I didn't want to be watching the game from the bench."
After beating Tucson 50-30 in the semifinals, it took the Caballeros a little time to wake up, and the Cougars took advantage.
Sahuaro jumped out to an 18-9 lead midway through the first quarter after freshman Sydney Harden scored a bucket in the paint.
"You have to give Sahuaro a ton of credit," Perkins said. "They came out and played very hard and got us down early."
The Caballeros answered and finished the first half on a 24-6 run to take a 33-24 lead at halftime.
Six players scored for Flowing Wells during the run, including Leikem, who had eight of the 24.
"The Tucson High game was a big one for us, and we weren't ready to go from the start in the championship," Leikem said. "But, we got it going."
Sahuaro, on the other hand, labored after starting strong. The Cougars scored just one field goal each in the second and third quarters.
Junior Itzel Valencia-Gallegos had a team-high 11 points for Sahuaro (12-3), and Harden added 10.
"There are a lot of positives I think we can take from the tournament," said Sahuaro coach Steve Botkin, whose team went 3-1 in the tournament and beat Desert Christian in the semifinals. "On a whole, we played well all weekend and learned about some things we have to do better going forward."
The Caballeros improved to 13-3 and won their tournament for the second straight season. Perkins' team has won 11 consecutive games and has an in-season tournament title to build on.
The closest Sahuaro got in the second half was eight points after freshman Reazsha Benjamin converted on two free throws. The Caballeros led by as many as 15 in the second half.
"For me, it's one game at a time, but I'm happy for the girls that they won their own tournament," Perkins said.
"They really had a lot of fun, and that's important."
Junior Shalise Fernander, who fouled out late in the third quarter, had eight points to back up Leikem's 19, and Nadine Fermawi added seven.
Both teams are off until Jan. 8. Sahuaro will travel to Salpointe Catholic, and Flowing Wells will host Ironwood Ridge.