Before the season, Bonanza girls basketball coach Dan Savage asked his team how many wins would be a reasonable team goal.
The answer he got wasn’t exactly one dripping with confidence: five.
But with a 56-52 win over visiting Desert Oasis on Wednesday, the Bengals have more than doubled their expectations and are on the doorstep of their first playoff berth since 2010.
“It gives me chills,” said Savage, who is in his third season and took over after the Bengals went 0-23 in the 2010-11 season. “After I accepted the job, I looked at their record the previous year, and I thought to myself that it can only go up. I told the athletic director back then to give me three years and we would make the playoffs.
“These girls have truly worn that uniform well. It’s great to be close to going to the playoffs, and it will be our mission to stay there.”
Bonanza (12-7, 3-4 Southwest League) needs one more win or a loss by both Desert Oasis and Cimarron-Memorial to clinch a playoff spot.
Each team has three league games left.
The Bengals, who beat Desert Oasis 60-45 on Jan. 10, had trouble shaking the Diamondbacks (8-13, 1-6) on Wednesday.
Bonanza shot just 17 of 61 from the field (27.9 percent) and had 29 turnovers, but took the lead for good when Sianna Nelson stuck back a missed free throw with 5 minutes, 27 seconds left.
A 3-pointer by Chardonnay Martin-Roberson on the next Bonanza possession gave the Bengals a 48-43 lead.
Desert Oasis closed to within 53-51 on a second-chance basket by Thessa Fernando with 42 seconds left, but the Bengals made 3 of 5 free throws in the final 34 seconds.
“We had to work for everything,” Savage said.
Nelson came off the bench to score 11 points and grab 16 rebounds.
“She has a knack for rebounding the ball,” Savage said. “She originally wasn’t going to come out for the team and was just going to focus on track, but she came out late. She’s like Dennis Rodman. She’ll give you a little on the offensive end, but she’s just going to rebound the ball.
“Her rebounding was the difference in the game.”
Tanganika Hunt had 16 points for the Bengals.
Mikala Kirby and Ashlynn Sharp each had 14 points for Desert Oasis, which committed 31 turnovers.
Contact reporter Bartt Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 387-5230.