Sierra Vista’s girls basketball team was nearly lulled to sleep in the first half of Friday’s home game against Desert Oasis.
Fortunately for the Mountain Lions, the wake-up call came just in time.
Sierra Vista (16-5, 10-1 Southwest) used a suffocating 1-2-2 zone, full-court press to erase a 21-15 halftime deficit and rally past the Diamondbacks, 47-43 to maintain their second-place hold in the Southwest League.
“(The first half) was a way slower pace than we wanted, and we were a little flat, to be honest,” Sierra Vista coach Lindsay Whalen said. “We tried to change it up in the second half and make it more of an up-tempo game. We talked at half about turning up the intensity in order to defend our home court.”
Senior guard Jeanette Jackson scored 17 of her 27 points after the break, including a perfect 9-for-9 from the free-throw line, to help the Mountain Lions take control.
Jackson used her deft dribbling skills to weave through traffic and find Melia Tadytin open for a layup to cut the lead to 25-23 with 4:24 left in the third quarter. One minute later, Jackson again drove the length of the floor to convert a three-point play and give Sierra Vista its first lead since a 4-3 margin in the first quarter.
“We really had to work on defense tonight in order to get our points on offense,” Jackson said. “We are a pressing team with a lot of speed. We were playing their game at the beginning, but then we got our heads together and did what we needed to do to pick up the pace.”
The Mountain Lions led 32-29 after the third quarter, and extended the lead to 46-35 with 3:50 left on a layup by Tadytin, who finished with seven points and five rebounds.
Desert Oasis (11-7, 6-4) cut the lead to 46-40 on a layup by Sammi Tso with 1:04 left to play.
Sierra Vista’s A’Yanna Johnson, who tallied nine rebounds and five steals, hit the front end of a one-and-one to make it 47-40 with 28 seconds left.
Tso nailed her third 3-pointer from the left wing with 14 seconds to play for the game’s final margin.
The Diamondbacks earned a final possession after forcing a Sierra Vista turnover with eight seconds left, but Tatiana Kearn’s ensuing 3-pointer rimmed out.
Desert Oasis outrebounded Sierra Vista, 34-22, with Taryn Crawford leading the way with 10 boards and to add to seven points.
Tso and Kearn each scored 14 points to lead the Diamondbacks.
Marley Wakeen supplied six points and seven rebounds for the Mountain Lions.