West Las Vegas is headed to the state championship game in Class 3A girls' basketball after surviving an overtime thriller against district rival St. Michael's early Thursday in The Pit.
Miranda Martinez hit a buzzer-beating basket to lift the Lady Dons (28-5) to a 47-46 triumph over the Lady Horsemen. The Lady Dons and coach Jose Medina now prepare for tonight's title tilt against the winner of Thursday's other semifinal between Santa Fe Indian School and Lovington. Tipoff of the championship game is 6 p.m. today, also at The Pit.
West, powered early on by Vanessa Lucero's strong start, held a tenuous lead through much of Thursday's game. The Lady Dons led 13-11 after one quarter, 23-21 at halftime and 34-28 through three periods.
But the Lady Horsemen made headway in the final period of regulation and tied the game at 40 with roughly a minute and a half left. Lucero made one of two foul shots to push the Lady Dons ahead by a point, but St. Mike's sophomore Alexa Chavez drew a late foul and sank one of two free throws to tie the game and force overtime.
In the extra session, St. Mike's appeared to gain the upper hand. Lady Horseman senior Jamie Velasquez connected with nine seconds left to give her team a 46-45 edge. And the Lady Dons nearly turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, with Linda Esquibel getting a hand on the ball for a jump ball that went to WLV on the alternating possession. Down to 4.7 seconds when West got the ball inbounds, Martinez sliced through and hit the game-winner with less than a second on the clock.
WLV has won four times in as many games vs. St. Mike's this year.
West has played both district opponent SFIS and Lovington this year, winning two of three — including the district tournament championship game — against the Lady Braves and beating the Lady Wildcats 72-55 back on Jan. 8 at Gillie Lopez Gym. At the time of the latter game, West and Lovington were ranked first and second, respectively, in the state.