As Faith Lutheran prepared for Thursday’s game against Virgin Valley in the opening round of the Class 3A boys Southern League Tournament at Del Sol, Crusaders coach Bret Walter said his team’s primary concern was its play on the defensive end.
“Our defense had fallen off a little toward the end of the season, so that was what we were concentrating on,” he said.
That defensive focus was evident as No. 1 seed Faith Lutheran held the No.4-seeded Bulldogs to four baskets and 12 points in the first half on the way to a 46-30 victory.
The win puts the Crusaders in the tournament championship game against Moapa Valley at 8:20 p.m. Saturday at Del Sol, with the winner advancing to state.
In Thursday’s game, Diontea Wright scored 15 points for Faith Lutheran, but he had two early blocked shots in the paint that helped set the tone for his team.
“I was very happy with our defense,” Walter said. “That had been our focus in practice, and we thought if we played well on that end, the rest would take care of itself.”
It did, as the Crusaders shut Virgin Valley out for nearly six minutes in the first half. Conner Maloney capped that 9-0 run with a steal and went coast to coast to toss in a fast-break layup that gave Faith Lutheran an 18-5 lead.
Maloney, who finished with 16 points to lead the Crusaders, had another steal and a layup to cap a 7-2 burst in the third quarter to give Faith its largest lead, 40-20, with 48 seconds left in the period.
Johnny Gleave led Virgin Valley with 10-points.
• Moapa Valley 56, Pahrump Valley 47 — Max Jenkins scored 25 points as the Pirates pulled away late to top the Trojans.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Mike Amburgey helped Pahrump pull within 47-44 with 1:39 left. But Moapa hit 9 of 10 free throws down the stretch to put the Trojans away.
Darius Dolly led Pahrump with 18 points.
• Faith Lutheran 53, Virgin Valley 50 — Meghann Smith scored seven of her 20 points in overtime as the Crusaders upended the regular-season league co-champs in double overtime
Smith hit a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left in the first overtime to force a second extra period. Smith scored the first four points of the second overtime for Faith Lutheran, all at the line, to make the score 51-48 with 45 seconds remaining.
Rachel Morris scored to cut the lead to 51-50, but freshman Kiah Mayo drained a pair of free throws with 27 seconds left.
• Pahrump Valley 50, Moapa Valley 37 — The Trojans dominated in the paint and built a 31-point lead on the way to downing the Pirates.
Megan Meads and Kristi Daffer, Pahrump’s tandem in the post, scored 14 and 13 points to lead the Trojans.