Moir Christmas Classic: Defense won Bubbles MVP award
By Bret Strelow
Bubbles Phifer helped Salisbury’s girls win the Sam Moir Christmas Classic in each of her four varsity seasons.Her approach has changed significantly during that stretch of success.
Phifer scored seven points ó her lowest output in a Moir final ó yet was still a worthy MVP winner following a 69-29 victory against West Rowan on Wednesday night. She guarded Ayana Avery for three quarters and limited her to no points on 0-for-10 shooting in that time.
“Coming in as a freshman, I really wasn’t a good defensive player,” Phifer said. “Over the years I think I put more into being a good defensive player than being a good offensive player.
“My main goal is eight steals, seven assists. It doesn’t even matter about my points. Points will come regardless.”
Phifer posted 12 points, eight steals and five assists in a semifinal victory against Carson on Tuesday.
Avery had a 40-point game earlier this season, and she scored all seven of her points against Salisbury reserves in the fourth quarter.
“Bubbles is a very quick girl,” teammate Ashia Holmes said. “She’s very fast on her feet, and if she sees a chance to take the ball, she’s going to do it. No matter who you are, she’s going to get that chance.
“Before the game, Bubbles was so hyped. People were talking all this, talking all that. She’s just going to come play her best defense ever, and she did a good job.”
Salisbury led 2-0 when Olivia Rankin turned a steal into a layup. Phifer did the same thing 19 seconds later. A steal by Jessica Heilig led to a Holmes layup, and a second steal by Phifer preceded another layup for Rankin.
Less than two minutes had elapsed, and Salisbury already was ahead by 10.
“We don’t get frustrated with good defensive teams,” Salisbury coach Andrew Mitchell said. “West played pretty good defense, and if all you can do is score in the halfcourt, you can struggle and get frustrated. It’s good to get out and create some easy scoring opportunities.”
Phifer finished the evening with four steals, four assists and a third appearance on the all-Moir team. She deferred to fellow seniors Lacresha Young and Hannah Lebowitz when tournament director Dennis Davidson handed out the championship trophy.
The MVP plaque already was pressed against Phifer’s left arm.
“Without my team I wouldn’t have got it in the first place,” she said. “I just give all the credit to my team.”