I-A GIRLS BASKETBALL: Second-half defense lifts Crusaders over Pirates

Faith Lutheran coach Jennifer Karner opened up Tuesday’s game in a 1-3-1 zone defense because she knew Moapa Valley had players capable of shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.

But even she was taken aback when the Pirates made 5 of their first 9 3-pointers and trailed 21-19 with 3 minutes, 45 seconds to go in the second quarter.

“They played great,” Karner said. “They really stepped up and knew this was their chance for a playoff run. They came out fired up. We knew they had some shooters and that was the main reason we wanted to start in that 1-3-1.”

After switching to a 3-2 zone in the second half, the Crusaders held Moapa Valley to just 21.7 percent from the field, including 1-for-9 on 3-pointers, to run away with a 64-33 home win in a Division I-A Southern Region quarterfinal.

Faith Lutheran (20-7), the Sunset League’s No. 2 seed, will face Sunrise champion Chaparral (18-11) in a semifinal at 6:20 p.m. Thursday at Desert Pines.

“We knew we had it in us,” Karner said. “We knew we could fight through whatever stumbling block came. Everybody has a run in the game of basketball sooner or later. We knew we’d get ours.”

The Crusaders opened the third quarter on a 6-0 run and outscored Moapa Valley 19-8 in the quarter to take control. Kyla Shumway’s layup off an assist from Matilda Thompson ended the run with 5:43 to go in the third quarter for the Pirates, who only made four more field goals in the second half and finished with 22 turnovers.

“Our defense realized, ‘Hey, these guys are hitting. We’ve got to get up even closer,'” Karner said.

Madison Bocobo sparked the offense for Faith Lutheran by constantly driving to the basket. The sophomore finished with 19 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

“She followed our game plan perfectly. We wanted her to attack the rim,” Karner said. “We told her that was going to make us successful, and ‘Let’s win this game from the free-throw line and at the rim.’ She followed suit.”

Sam Caruth added 12 points, and Bryanna Neagle had 11 points, six rebounds and four steals for the Crusaders, who shot 13-for-26 from the field in the second half.

Summer Evans and Tapanga Durham each scored eight points for Moapa Valley (17-11).

Spring Valley 55, Desert Pines 41 — At Spring Valley, Kayla Harris had 21 points as the Grizzlies defeated the Jaguars.

Essence Booker supplied 10 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and five steals for Spring Valley. Lynnae Wilds added 10 points for the Grizzlies, who got nine rebounds from Alana Walker.

Jordan Bailey led Desert Pines (13-15) with 17 points.

Spring Valley (26-3) plays Western (17-11) in a semifinal at 3 p.m. Thursday at Desert Pines.

Western 53, Virgin Valley 48 — At Mesquite, Destiny Gonzalez scored 20 points and Capricia Pierce added 19 as the Warriors held off the Bulldogs.

Western led 41-40 going into the fourth quarter and outscored Virgin Valley 12-8 in the final period.

Briana Todd scored 15 points for Virgin Valley (13-12).

Chaparral 48, Sierra Vista 35 — At Chaparral, Alexis Vanstory had 20 points to lead the Cowboys by the Mountain Lions.

Marcia Hawkins added 12 points for Chaparral, which outscored Sierra Vista 22-10 in the second half.

Shania Harper had 14 points, and teammate Danielle Morrow scored 10 for the Mountain Lions (11-15).