Lady Vikes head to state by closest of margins
Down by eight with eight minutes to play. A trip to the state tournament would be the prize.
Williams High School coach Lorenzo Rodriguez had to be concerned about his girls basketball team. The Lady Vikings had struggled offensively since that fourth quarter against Sedona on Jan. 30.
Now here they were in the consolation game of the region tournament. Would they rise to the occasion in this final quarter? Or would it be a long bus ride back home?
Melissa Pettit and her teammates had some answers for coaches and fans. Pettit hit a free throw with two seconds left to complete a remarkable comeback and advance WHS to the Class 2A state basketball tournament with a 38-37 win.
Mogollon had jumped out to an eight-point lead in the first half and maintained that cushion after the third. But in the fourth, Williams switched from the three-quarter court press to the full-court press.
The Mustangs could not handle the pressure. The Heber girls scored only three points in the entire fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Williams kept coming and coming.
“In the third quarter, we started to relax and get good shots,” Rodriguez said.
With about 1:30 left, Pettit tied the score with a three-point goal, her third of the game. Mogollon took the ball downcourt but the Vikes came up with a steal.
Rodriguez called timeout with 57 seconds left on the clock. The strategy was to run down the seconds and try to score in the final moments.
The clocked ticked down and with seven seconds left, Pettit was trying to find Ashley Rocha for an open shot. But it wasn’t there and Pettit ended up attempting another three-pointer.
The shot didn’t fall, but the whistle blew. It what has seemed like a long season for WHS when it comes to officials’ calls, this time, it went in the Vikings’ favor.
Pettit was fouled and she had three chances at the free-throw line with only two seconds left. The senior walked up to the line and threw down the first shot to give the team a one-point lead. The other two shots were missed, but that didn’t matter. Mogollon could not get a shot off and Williams could celebrate another trip to state.
“I still believe we’re probably the best team in the conference,” Rodriguez said. “We just couldn’t put it together when we had to.”
Pettit finished with 16 points, the lone Viking to hit double figures.
Sedona Red Rock advanced to state as the No. 1 seed out of the region. Orme also qualified.
Williams closed out the regular season on Feb. 6 with a 54-40 setback to Orme. The Scorpions and Warriors then battled over the next two games to determine where regionals would be held.
Orme got the home-court advantage and Williams was paired up with Sedona in the first game. The Scorpions had a big second quarter to boost them to a 70-40 win. That put Williams into the consolation game vs. Mogollon.
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