Harris’ fast start sparks Wildcats on Senior Night

The last thing Shomari Harris wanted was for Las Vegas High’s girls basketball team to fall behind early against Rancho on Thursday.

The junior guard made sure that wouldn’t be a problem. Harris scored 23 of her game-high 27 points in the first half to help the Wildcats celebrate Senior Night with a 67-30 home victory.

“I just wanted to have a good game for our seniors, and keep the momentum up so we didn’t have to play catch-up at the end of the game,” said Harris, who added seven rebounds and four steals.

Harris gave the Wildcats momentum in the game and for the playoffs. Las Vegas (16-6, 12-2 Northeast League) will carry a six-game winning streak into the postseason. The Wildcats, the No. 2 seed from the Northeast, will host the Southeast’s No. 3 seed in a Sunrise Region quarterfinal at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“We have a young team, and for them to have that confidence going in, it’s a big deal,” coach Jennifer Brown said.

Jasmina Salas banked in a jumper from the right wing as time expired in the first quarter to help the Wildcats close the period on a 17-0 run. Las Vegas stretched the run to 22-0 in the second quarter, building a 30-8 lead.

The Wildcats led by as wide a margin as 55-16 after Matti Ventling’s 3-pointer in the third quarter. Las Vegas held Rancho (17-9, 9-5) to single-digit scoring in each quarter and 13-for-55 shooting.

“This is one of the toughest defensive games we’ve played,” Brown said. “Rancho was close the last time we played. For us to go out and hold them like that, to take away those rebounds and second-chance opportunities from them, it was a big deal.”

Ventling scored 14 points and Shaleea Butler had 11 for Las Vegas, which led 41-14 at halftime.

Kanosha Grey led Rancho with 14 points, and freshman post LaKissa Martin had 10 points and six rebounds.

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