Freshman helps lift Palo Verde girls past Durango in OT in Sunset Region playoffs

When his team’s season fell on the shoulders of a freshman Wednesday night, Palo Verde girls basketball coach Phil Clarke wasn’t nervous.

In his eyes, freshman guard Jasmin Kiley was “probably the calmest one out there.”

Kiley hit a crucial fourth-quarter 3-pointer and then shot 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in overtime. Her heroics lifted Palo Verde to a 67-60 home win over Durango in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A Sunset Region playoffs.

“If someone else was watching, you wouldn’t have been able to guess that she was a freshman,” Clarke said of Kiley. “Jazz stepped up big.”

Hayley Henderson scored 22 points to lead Palo Verde (17-7), which will host Bishop Gorman at 6:20 p.m. today.

Shameka Smith scored 15 points and Kiley 13 for the Panthers, who scored the first eight points of overtime and won the extra period, 12-5.

“We just really wanted it,” said Henderson, who has signed with Northern Arizona. “We wanted it so bad. We told the underclassmen we wanted it, and they wanted it as much as we did.”

In her final game at Durango (23-10), UNLV signee Mia Bell had 36 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals.

When asked how Durango rallied from a 38-23 third-quarter hole to go ahead 54-48 in the final minute of regulation, Henderson said with a laugh: “Mia.”

“When Mia starts hitting shots and starts getting pumped up, she just pumps up the rest of the team,” Durango coach Lindsay Callaghan said. “They stepped up getting some rebounds and doing the little things.”

But Palo Verde went on a 7-1 run in the final 50 seconds of regulation, highlighted by a Kiley 3-pointer and a game-tying layup by Henderson.

Kiley then scored six points in overtime, and three teammates had two points apiece. Kiley was 8-for-9 at the free-throw line overall.

Durango, meanwhile, was held scoreless in OT until the final minute when Bell scored.

“Offensively, we needed somebody else to step up and pick up some slack, and that didn’t happen,” Callaghan said.

Clarke said the Panthers let the lead slip away after relaxing.

“Instead of pushing like we normally do, I think we thought, 'We’ve got the lead; let’s relax a little bit,’” he said. “But as soon as we relaxed, that’s when (Durango) kept pushing.”

But that’s when Kiley took over, which didn’t surprise Henderson.

“She’s a baller,” Henderson said of Kiley. “We always look for her to shoot. She has a great jump shot. We always look for her to attack.

“She’s a big addition to our team this year, and we’re just really happy that we have her.”

Callaghan said the Trailblazers’ underclassmen have much work to do if they are to return to the postseason.

“I’m excited to watch (Bell) at UNLV,” Callaghan said. “I think she’ll do great things, but the kids we have left, they have a lot of work to do in the offseason in order for us to be competitive next year.”