Senior guard finds stride, lifts Sierra Vista girls

Sierra Vista’s Teena Baxter started the season slow while recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

The senior guard missed the season’s first week and has been searching for a comfort zone since. On Thursday, she showed her recovery is going just fine.

Baxter came off the bench to score a season-high 21 points and lift the Mountain Lions to a crucial 56-39 Southwest League win at Durango.

“I was struggling for a while with my shot and my knee, and I was getting down on myself,” Baxter said. “But my teammates and coaches really helped me out.

“I was just ready to come out and play and get this one for my team, so I went to work.”

Baxter hit four 3-pointers. She scored five points during Sierra Vista’s 14-3 run to open the game.

“It probably is one of her best games this season,” Sierra Vista coach Lindsay Whalen said. “She’s come back a little slow from the injury, but she’s definitely capable of doing that any night.

“It’s big for her confidence. We all know she’s capable of it, but for her to actually go out and do it gives her more confidence.”

Marley Wakeen had 12 points and six rebounds for the Mountain Lions (13-6, 6-1), and Jeanette Jackson scored 12 points.

Sierra Vista moved a half-game ahead of Durango (12-9, 6-2) and into second place in the Southwest behind Bishop Gorman (13-5, 7-0). The top two teams open the Sunset Region playoffs at home.

“We want the second seed. We want a home playoff game,” Baxter said. “We came in with the mindset, ‘Let’s get to work.’ “

Sierra Vista was the Southwest’s No. 4 seed last year, leading to a 90-55 first-round exit at eventual state champion Centennial.

“It’s just really important to get home court,” Whalen said. “You’re used to your own gym. Psychologically, it’s a big advantage.”

Cherelle Hicks had 13 points and 11 rebounds for Durango, which had a five-game winning streak snapped. Megan Tullis had nine points and eight rebounds for the Trailblazers, who were limited to fewer than 40 points for the 14th time this season.

Contact reporter Tristan Aird at taird@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203.

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