Virgin Valley girls basketball coach Chimane Creer called junior guard Nikki Arquette an “unsung hero.”
The coach was singing Arquette’s praises Saturday night, and anyone who watched the Bulldogs play knew why.
Arquette had 10 points and five steals in the fourth quarter to help the Bulldogs rally for a 50-39 win over Boulder City in the Class 3A Southern League title game at Durango.
The win gave Virgin Valley (16-9) a berth in the state tournament, which begins Friday in Reno.
“Nikki had a huge game,” Creer said. “When she came down and hit those first few shots right at the beginning, I was like 'OK, if there’s a game she needed to step up, this is the day.’ And she stepped up.”
Arquette finished with 18 points, four rebounds and seven steals. But it was her fourth-quarter performance that keyed the victory.
Arquette hit a 12-foot baseline jumper to start the fourth quarter and give the Bulldogs their first lead of the second half at 32-30.
Each time Boulder City (22-6) retook the lead, Arquette hit another big jumper, knocking down an 18-footer to make it 34-33, and another 12-footer from the baseline for a 36-35 lead. She hit another 18-footer from the left wing to push the lead to 38-35 and give the Bulldogs all the momentum.
“For her to step up and make some shots when maybe we can’t get it inside for a post player or maybe somebody’s off for a few minutes — she just kind of hit at crucial times,” Creer said. “She brought us back in the game.”
Arquette also posed problems defensively, coming up with all five of her steals in the fourth quarter. Boulder City turned the ball over 11 times in the final quarter, and Virgin Valley turned those miscues into nine points.
“She’s kind of been the unsung hero, and doesn’t get a lot of recognition,” Creer said of Arquette. “She doesn’t score a lot of points, but she does a lot of other things for us.”
The Bulldogs also got a boost off the bench from 6-foot-4-inch freshman Kourtney Metzger. Metzger only had one point, but she gave the Bulldogs an inside presence after senior Cassidy Crandall got in early foul trouble.
Metzger had six rebounds and blocked four shots.
“She’s done some things this year that I didn’t really expect from a freshman,” Creer said. “But she’s played some big games and she’s stepped up when we needed her to.”
Abbie Barnard added 13 points and eight rebounds for Virgin Valley.
Karlee Koopman paced Boulder City with 13 points and seven rebounds. Mallory Bird added 10 points for the Eagles.