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DIVISION I-A GIRLS: Hot shooting helps Grizzlies claim second straight crown

Faith Lutheran’s band played its version of the Commodores’ hit song “Brick House” just before the tip of Saturday’s Division I-A Southern Region girls basketball final, perhaps hoping to jinx the shooting touch of Sunset League champion Spring Valley.

It didn’t work.

The Grizzlies shot 75 percent from the field in the first quarter, including 5-for-7 on 3-pointers, and cruised to a 63-46 win over Faith Lutheran at Desert Pines to claim their second consecutive region championship. Both teams advance to next week’s state tournament in Reno.

“That’s crazy,” Spring Valley coach Billy Hemberger said. “I’ll take it. … When we can knock down shots like that, we’re a tough team. My girls all have the green light. They can shoot away, as long as it’s their shot. They kept knocking them down. For players, it’s very good for them to go into the game knowing I’m never going to take them out for taking a shot. Ever.”

Spring Valley (28-3) opened the game on a 10-0 run and made its first five 3-pointers to take a 25-5 lead after the first quarter.

The Grizzlies had their biggest lead of the game at 31-7 with 6:45 to go in the second quarter and took a 42-23 lead into halftime after making 16 of 28 shots (57.1 percent) from the field.

“We controlled the tempo, we had a specific game plan and I feel like we executed very well,” Hemberger said. “We shot a little more threes than I would’ve liked, but we were knocking them down so it’s hard to argue that.”

Despite cooling down considerably and making just six field goals in the second half, Spring Valley never was threatened after its huge start.

“We didn’t press as much this game and we played more of a half-court game,” Hemberger said. “I feel like we just executed really well. Did we take our feet off the gas? Not necessarily. But was it about giving up a good shot for a great shot? Yes.”

Essence Booker led the way for the Grizzlies with 14 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and four steals.

“It is out of control how much she has matured and turned into a complete player,” Hemberger said. “Last year, she was an amazing player but she liked to play off of the ball. This year, she’s really adapted to be a true point guard.”

Kayla Harris scored 15 points and had six assists for Spring Valley, and teammate Alyssa Scott scored 13. Alana Walker also had nine points and nine rebounds for the Grizzlies.

Bobbi Tharaldson made four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points to lead Faith Lutheran (21-8). Madison Bocobo added 13 points and four assists for the Crusaders, who shot 24.5 percent from the field.

Contact reporter Ashton Ferguson at aferguson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0430. Follow him on Twitter: @af_ferguson

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