PRESCOTT VALLEY — No. 16 Elfrida Valley Union coach Bart Haines admitted that his team’s style of play could allow for fourth-quarter fatigue. But despite the fatigue, his squad will get to face the top-seeded team in the Division IV girls basketball tournament bracket Saturday.
Valley Union held off a Teec Nos Pos Red Mesa fourth-quarter rally and advanced to face top-seeded Scottsdale Salt River. The 43-39 victory in a nip-and-tuck first-round game was tight all the way.
Kortney Haines paced Valley Union with 21 points and Yesenia Gamez added 10.
Kristonya George led Red Mesa with 13 points and Shayla Yellowman scored nine.
Valley Union pulled back from a four-point fourth-quarter deficit after it had surrendered a five-point lead late in the third quarter.
“We press the entire game and to be honest, we just got tired,” Bart Haines said of the early fourth-quarter fade. “I give credit to (Red Mesa). They had only seven players in their rotation. We both have run-and-gun type teams. I wanted to give my starters a breather (in the fourth), but they came back and got the lead on us. “
Red Mesa opened a 15-10 lead after the first quarter and held a 19-15 lead midway through the second before Haines’ closed out the half with a 3-pointer to beat the buzzer and cut the lead to 19-18.
Red Mesa’s Darin Littleben opened the third with a 3, but Haines scored six straight points and Sara Hahn added a 3 to get Valley Union to a 31-28 lead after three.
And then things got exciting. George hit a 3, giving her seven straight Red Mesa points and Red Mesa regained the lead, 39-35, with 2:36 remaining in the game.
Bart Haines went to a man-to-man defense and Valley Union regained the lead as Kortney Haines scored eight straight points, with four points coming off of two steals and baskets, to give Valley Union a 43-39 lead with one minute to play.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Bart Haines said of Saturday’s meeting with Salt River. “To be honest with you, we’re going to just go out and play our game and do our best.”