Gators Ride Late Run To Win, Sunrise Title

Aja Flippen knew she had to elevate her game Saturday.

The Green Valley senior had just watched fellow post player Vajae Robinson collect her fourth foul in the second quarter of the Gators’ Sunrise Region final against Silverado.

All Flippen did was score 19 points, including a basket that started a game-ending 14-0 run, and grab 10 rebounds as the Gators rallied for a 72-62 win at Liberty.

Green Valley (28-3), a winner of 17 straight, will meet either Bishop Gorman or the Northern Region champion in the Class 4A state semifinals Thursday at Orleans Arena.

Silverado (24-6) will face Gorman in a play-in game at 5 p.m. Monday at Arbor View.

“I knew I had to step up for my team,” Flippen said.

Robinson, a 6-foot-2-inch senior, helped the Gators dominate both of their regular-season meetings with Silverado.

But the Skyhawks found plenty of success in the paint Saturday, frustrating Robinson, who was whistled for her fourth foul with 34.5 seconds left in the first half.

It left Flippen as the Gators’ only true post player in the third quarter and hampered Robinson’s play in the fourth.

“We’re a team,” Green Valley coach Lorenzo Jarvis said. “When someone is in trouble, somebody else has to fill in and do the job.”

Flippen responded, scoring 12 second-half points, including eight in the fourth quarter. Her jumper in the paint with 2:17 to go was the biggest.

The shot started a game-ending 14-0 run, in which she also hit the go-ahead transition basket, giving Green Valley a 64-62 lead with 1:50 to play.

Danielle Christenson iced the game, going 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. She led all scorers with 32 points.

The Gators bolted to a 15-2 lead 2:27 into the game, but the Skyhawks stormed back, using a 17-3 run to take a 19-18 lead. Neither team had a lead larger than four points until the final minute of the game.

“I really don’t think they outplayed us that much,” Silverado coach Kelli Bray-Mathews said. “We were just unlucky at the end. We played with them, finally.”

Shea Collins led Silverado with 27 points, 23 in the first half. Alena Evans scored 15, and Mikayla Thielges had 11 points and 15 rebounds.

Contact reporter Bartt Davis at bdavis@ or 702-380-5230.

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