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SUNSET REGION: Tso steps up, leads Desert Oasis to first-round win

With two of her top players sitting out with injuries Tuesday night, Desert Oasis girls basketball coach Laurie Evans knew someone would have to step up to fill the void.

Sammi Tso was more than happy to accept that challenge.

The junior point guard had 23 points and four steals to help the Diamondbacks to a 60-49 home victory over Legacy in the Sunset Region quarterfinals.

Desert Oasis will play Centennial in a semifinal game at 6:20 p.m. Thursday at Desert Oasis.

“We had two of our top guards out tonight,” said Evans in noting that Jaqueline Garcia and Brianna Osorio were unavailable. “But all year, on any given night, one of our guards steps up and plays good.”

Tso, who helped the Diamondbacks put the game out of reach with nine points in the third quarter, said it could have been anyone.

“Coach and the team recognize when someone is on fire,” she said, “and they try to get them the ball.”

Tso and her teammates initially needed some time to get going, as the Longhorns pulled down the game’s first 10 rebounds to keep it close. A driving layup and a subsequent foul shot by Legacy’s Justice Akins tied it at 12 near the end of the first quarter.

But the Longhorns committed 17 of their 34 turnovers in the first half, and the Diamondbacks began taking advantage in the second quarter.

“As soon as we started getting steals, we got ahead,” Evans said. “That’s our game. We’re very quick and very guard-oriented. They work together, and that’s what I love about this team.”

Tatiana Kearn nailed four 3-pointers in the first half, and Desert Oasis took a 32-19 lead into halftime.

“She has a very consistent 3-point shot,” Evans said. “We count on her to make those.”

Tso said she knew it was just a matter of time.

“I think we got all our nerves out in the first quarter,” Tso said. “We realized we had to step it up, and that’s what we did.”

Auburn Smith, who finished with five points and seven steals, put any doubt to rest when she capped a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Diamondbacks a 48-26 lead with 3:53 left in the third.

Kearn finished with 16 points to help the Diamondbacks.

Neisha Jackson led Legacy with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Bishop Gorman 82, Faith Lutheran 65 — At Gorman, April Rivers scored 27 points, and Julia Ewalefo had 13 points and 12 rebounds to help the Gaels (24-3) eliminate the Crusaders (14-12).

Zhane Dikes scored 21 points for Gorman, which led 35-10 after the first quarter.

The Gaels play Palo Verde (19-6) in the semifinals at 4:40 p.m. on Thursday.

Sam Leonard and Taylor Hammer each scored 15 points to lead Faith Lutheran.

Dani Tharaldson scored 12 points for the Crusaders, and teammates Kelsey McCourt (11) and Julia Benko (10) also scored in double figures.

Centennial 69, Durango 25 — At Centennial, Tamera Williams had 10 points and 12 rebounds to help the Bulldogs eliminate the Trailblazers (10-9).

Jada Brown had 15 points for Centennial, which got 10 points each from Tramina Jordan and Breanna Workman.

Jasmine Thomas scored seven points to lead Durango, which trailed 15-4 after one quarter and 39-8 at the half.

Palo Verde 71, Western 34 — At Palo Verde, Sala Salcido had 15 points as the Panthers routed the Warriors (10-18).

Jasmin Kiley and Lily Tapusoa each had nine points, and Mikayla Diers scored eight for Palo Verde, which used an 18-2 second-quarter run to take control.

Brittany Moreland had 25 points for Western.

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