3A Girls: Late burst helps Mojave girls rally past Virgin Valley

After Thursday’s triple-overtime thriller and its first state tournament berth secured, Mojave’s girls basketball team could have been a step slow Saturday.

And in the first three quarters of their Class 3A Southern Region final against Virgin Valley at Del Sol, the Rattlers had 23 points.

But thanks to Alecia Kelly’s shooting and Chania Scott’s inside game, Mojave scored 29 points in the final eight minutes to secure a 52-43 victory over Virgin Valley for its first region title.

“We wanted a banner to hang in our gym,” said Mojave coach Jessica Harrison with a huge smile. “These girls deserve to be the first to have something special in our gym. It’s still unbelievable.”

Mojave played from behind the majority for the majority of the game, but grabbed a lead on Kelly’s 3-pointer with 5 minutes, 25 seconds remaining to give the Rattlers a 35-34 edge.

The two teams traded baskets before Mojave (15-7) finally gained control as Scott made a pair of free throws followed by a 3-pointer from Destini Bolden put the Rattlers up 44-39.

From there, it was timely foul shooting by Mojave, as the Rattlers made 6 of 8 free throws to secure the championship.

Virgin Valley (15-12) dominated the inside for the entire game, outrebounding Mojave, 45-24. The Bulldogs got a huge game from Savannah Price, with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Price scored 12 of those points in the opening half, as Virgin Valley enjoyed a 22-16 cushion at the break.

“It was clear that we didn’t have our legs in the first half,” said Harrison, whose team made just four field goals in the first 16 minutes. “I thought we had a very good practice Friday, but we looked very sluggish in the first half.”

Kelly led the Rattlers with 14 points on 6-for-14 shooting. Kiara Lemon added 13 points. Scott chipped in with nine points, including 5 of 8 from the foul line, and nine rebounds.

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