Peoria Liberty girls basketball coach Alicia Sanchez pulled out all the stops when it came to promoting her unbeaten team’s home game against unbeaten Prescott Valley Bradshaw Mountain on Friday night (Dec. 13).
“I sent an e-mail to the school asking people to come out for the game,’’ she said. “I said one team is going to go home with a loss, and it isn’t going to be us.’’
For more than four minutes in the fourth period, she must have wondered if her plans would vanish.
Neither team scored, and appeared that Bradshaw Mountain, with a two-point lead, might be able to hold on for the victory.
Courtney Christmas rescued the Lady Lions on a basket with 51 seconds left that tied it and sent the contest into overtime.
She scored six points in overtime, including four free throws, as Liberty went on to record a 50-46 victory. Sanchez’s words came true after all.
Liberty went home with a 7-0 record, while Bradshaw Mountain fell to 9-1.
“That (scoring drought) happened to us all game,’’ Sanchez said. “We weren’t able to hit many of our shots. But we kept our confidence that things would start to go our way and the shots would fall.’’
Bradshaw Mountain trailed most of the first half, and pulled within 24-23 with 42.2 seconds before intermission. Christmas then gave Liberty a boost with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Bradshaw Mountain began to put things together in the third quarter and had a 37-32 lead, thanks in part to a four-point play by Kaitlyn McKenna and a three-point play by Kylie Morris 20 seconds later. But Liberty regained its momentum with a 7-0 run to close out the quarter.
Both teams had a chance to win it at the end of regulation, but could not do so.
Christmas, a junior, then went to work in overtime to help give her team the win. She finished with 22 points and was looking for an ice bag afterward to soothe a banged-up knee.
Liberty tightened up its defense in overtime, forcing Bradshaw Mountain to shoot sooner than it wanted or take off-balance shots.
“I wish we could have played like that the whole game. If we play like that, we are capable of getting a lot of wins,’’ said Sanchez, who took over the program shortly before the school year began after veteran coach Odell Berry took over the women’s program at Arizona Christian University.