Mojave senior Kiara Lemon knew she was a win away from making history.
The fight to get there went deeper than perhaps even Lemon imagined, but in the end Mojave got the job done.
The Rattlers blew a six-point lead in the final 22 seconds of the first overtime, but managed to maintain their poise and eventually pull off a 59-57 thriller in triple overtime against Moapa Valley in the Class 3A Southern Region semifinals at Del Sol on Thursday.
Mojave will make its first trip to the girls basketball state tournament in school history.
“I can’t describe the feeling,” said Lemon, who led Mojave with 19 points. “As a senior, I didn’t want tonight to be my last high school basketball game. We didn’t panic and hung in there especially in overtime.”
Mojave (14-7) will meet Virgin Valley (15-11) in the region final at 4 p.m. Saturday at Del Sol. Both teams will participate in the state tournament next week in Reno.
It appeared the Rattlers had punched their ticket to state, enjoying a 53-47 lead with only 22 seconds remaining in the first overtime.
The Pirates, though, didn’t quit.
Lainey Cornwall nailed a 3-pointer, then stole the ensuing inbounds pass and nailed another triple to tie the game. After a turnover, Moapa Valley tried for the game-winner but missed. Kaitlyn Anderson grabbed the rebound and was fouled during the follow, but the officials ruled it was after the horn had sounded.
“We had a couple of breakdowns after having the six-point lead,” said Mojave coach Jessica Harrison. “They made some big shots, but we had to keep our maturity and stay focused.”
In the second overtime, the Rattlers took a three-point lead on Chania Scott’s put-back bucket with 21.7 seconds left. Once again, the Pirates answered as Shelbi Walker drained one of Moapa Valley’s 11 3-pointers on the night to tie the game.
Lemon and Alecia Kelly had the only points in the final overtime, both coming from the foul line.
“This is so surreal, that we made state,” Harrison said. “These kids never quit, and you could see them coming together as a team each week. There’s no feeling like this.”
Kelly added 13 points for Mojave, and Savannah Blanchard-Davis scored 10.
Walker and Cornwall each had 16 points for Moapa Valley (25-4). Anderson added 15 points before fouling out.
Virgin Valley 56, Chaparral 50 — At Del Sol, Savannah Price and Nathalie Lagamayo combined for 31 points as the Bulldogs earned a state berth for the third straight season.
Chaparral (11-15) did have a 47-45 lead with just less than three minutes left, but didn’t make another field goal and had four costly turnovers. Chaparral was 19-of-33 from the foul line and made just three of 19 attempts from three-point range.
Price led the Bulldogs with 16 points, and Lagamayo added 15 points and six assists.
Riahana Davis led all scorers with 21 points for the Cowboys, and teammate Jai’La Vincent scored 15.