Patriots upend Vikings

When Jade Washington drove the lane Thursday in the final minute of Liberty’s Sunrise Region quarterfinal game, teammate Amanda Delgado knew she was about to become a hero.

As she had done countless times in practice, Washington kicked the ball out to the right corner, and Delgado nailed the go-ahead 3-pointer to help the Patriots rally for a 60-56 victory over host Valley.

“When Jade drives in, she always knows I’m there,” said Delgado, whose shot gave Liberty a 57-56 lead. “Every time. That’s the way we do it in practice.”

The win lifted the Patriots (19-9) into today’s semifinal round. They will face Green Valley (26-3) in a 5:45 game at Liberty.

Vanessa Corona scored 11 of her game-high 22 points in the first half to help the Vikings take control, and a Markysha McCullah 3-pointer late in the second quarter capped a 9-0 scoring spurt that helped Valley take a 35-28 lead into halftime.

The Vikings (12-12) expanded the advantage to 48-35 with two minutes left in the third quarter, but the Patriots began showing signs of life late in the period when they closed with a 6-0 run.

With momentum shifting, Liberty coach Chris Zunno began believing his team could rally.

“All season this team has shown heart and character,” he said. “They knew they only had eight minutes left, and that’s all the momentum they needed.”

The Patriots chipped away at the deficit and finally cut it to 54-52 on a 3-pointer by Washington with 2:12 left. The score remained close until Delgado hit her big shot with 45 seconds remaining to give Liberty its first lead of the second half.

“I knew it was our season,” Delgado said of her go-ahead shot. “I was just thinking, ‘It’s right here or never.’ “

Valley turned the ball over twice in the final 30 seconds to help secure the Patriots’ victory.

Washington led the Patriots with 21 points, Delgado had 14 points, seven steals and six rebounds, and Daynice Cochran had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Green Valley 82, Rancho 29 — At Green Valley, Jazmine Jarvis had 15 points, 10 steals and nine assists as the Southeast League champion Gators rolled to a 56-8 halftime lead and cruised past the Rams.

Aja Flippen added 17 points, Danielle Christenson scored 16, and Vajae Robinson had 11 points and 12 rebounds for Green Valley.

Khalia Branch led Rancho (12-12) with 16 points.

Silverado 79, Las Vegas 39 — At Silverado, Shea Collins had 37 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to lead the defending Sunrise Region champion Skyhawks in a rout over the Wildcats.

Mikayla Thielges logged 12 points and 17 rebound for Silverado (23-5). Alena Evans and Natalie Lanhart also scored 12 points apiece for the Skyhawks.

Shrae Jackson led Las Vegas (10-9) with 13 points.

Coronado 39, Desert Pines 33 — At Desert Pines, the Cougars (16-11) held the Northeast League champion Jaguars to 12 first-half points in advancing to the semifinals.

Nicole Ruffino led a balanced attack with nine points for Coronado, which will face Silverado at 4 p.m. today.

LaBrea Walker paced Desert Pines (17-4) with 17 points. The Jaguars made only 9 of 30 free throws.

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