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Desert Oasis girls overcome Durango despite slow start

Not even the most loyal Desert Oasis girls basketball fan could have found much to love about the team’s first quarter Wednesday.

But the remaining 24 minutes were much easier on the eyes.

Rebounding from the slow start, the Diamondbacks moved to the doorstep of their first postseason berth, downing visiting Durango, 60-45.

Desert Oasis (13-7, 8-4) has a one-game lead over Western and a two-game lead and the tiebreaker over Durango (11-12, 6-6) for the Southwest League’s final two playoff berths.

“The past two games, we’ve just started out slow, and it’s something we can’t put our finger on,” Desert Oasis coach Laurie Evans said. “We foul, a lot. We get nervous and we don’t play our game. We were ready, and they went out there and were like deer in headlights.”

The Diamondbacks did almost nothing right in the first eight minutes, making just 1 of 8 shots from the field and committing eight turnovers.

Evans switched from her usual four-guard lineup to a five-guard lineup, and Desert Oasis committed only eight turnovers the rest of the way, including five in the fourth quarter.

In the process, the Diamondbacks turned a 6-4 deficit into a 44-28 lead, driving to the basket, making a handful of open 3-pointers and getting to the free-throw line.

Desert Oasis starting guards Sammi Tso, Auburn Smith, Tatiana Kearn and Trini Morgan combined for 47 points, with most of that damage coming in the middle two quarters.

“Once we got our five guards in there, they kind of took over and handled the ball and scored,” Evans said. “Our guards did a really good job once they got into the flow of the game.”

Kearn finished with 16 points, Smith 14 and Tso 12.

Tiarra Beville led Durango with 19 points, making 9 of 17 shots. The rest of the Trailblazers were a combined 9-for-38 shooting.

Desert Oasis needs two wins in its final four games to clinch a playoff spot — and three of those games are against the bottom four teams in the league.

The Diamondbacks finished fifth in the Southwest last season, missing the postseason by three games.

“They know they deserve it and they know they want it,” Evans said. “It’s becoming a reality now. They’re excited. You can tell. They talk about it all the time, but I think they’re also a little timid because they’re young.”

Contact reporter Bartt Davis at bdavis@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5230.

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