Updated January 23, 2023 - 9:42 pm
Las Vegas handled Mojave’s pressure defense for the first three quarters in a key Class 4A Lake League matchup Monday night.
But in the fourth quarter, the Rattlers’ defense broke the Wildcats.
Mojave held Las Vegas scoreless in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter with nine forced turnovers and went on a 20-0 run en route to a 79-56 win at Las Vegas High.
Sophomore guard C.J. Shaw led Mojave (14-5, 4-0 Class 4A Lake) with 31 points, and junior guard Nathan Sherrard scored 15.
“It was just a change of energy,” Mojave coach KeJuan Clark said of the fourth-quarter run. “We could have been doing that all game. It just clicks, we get a few steals, get a few breakaways, make a few shots and we just keep going on that.”
The Wildcats ended the scoring drought with a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Tayshaun Jackson, who led Las Vegas (12-8, 3-1, 4A Lake) with 20 points, with about two minutes left.
Las Vegas weathered Mojave’s defense early, overcoming seven first-quarter turnovers to lead 15-14 after the quarter.
Both offenses picked up in the second quarter, with Las Vegas scoring nine quick points to lead 23-14. Mojave answered with a 13-1 run to take a two-point lead.
Jackson scored 10 points and Shaw 11 in the second quarter, as both teams traded baskets the rest of the half and went to the locker room tied at 34.
Clark said Mojave’s energy wasn’t where it needed to be early in the game.
“Our energy from the beginning has to be high, not once when the other team is getting in their groove and we decide to get into our groove,” Clark said. “We have to go hard the whole time, all 32 minutes.”
The Rattlers’ defense started to pick up in the third quarter, limiting the Wildcats to four made field goals. Mojave ended the quarter with a 6-1 run in the final two minutes to lead 55-51.
With its defense forcing turnovers and Mojave controlling the boards, its offense was able to utilize a balanced scoring attack of driving to the basket and knocking down outside shots to pull away.
“Defense was our main goal in the second half, it’s what made us get that 20-0 run,” Shaw said. “It’s a big energy boost. The bench got us hyped, and we just kept it going.”
As Mojave went on its run to a 4A state championship last year, its defense was given the nickname “32 minutes of controlled chaos.” Clark said they have to get back to that mentality to avoid slow starts.
“We have to get used to going to away games and foreign situations and being prepared to play,” Clark said. “We started out slow, and we have to stop our slow starts.”