Celeste Trujillo hit two game-tying free throws with nine seconds left, and teammate Deanna Bustos swished the game-winners with :02 on the clock Friday night, lifting West Las Vegas (14-5) past Raton 54-52 at Gillie Lopez Gym.
As time expired, Raton’s Brylee Medina hurled a desperation shot that just missed, banking off the rim.
By holding off the Lady Tigers, West averted what could’ve been a disastrous loss in District 2-3A play. The Lady Dons also found a way to gain a happy ending to a generally miserable contest for them.
After taking a 9-1 head start that included two buckets by Maya Roybal, one by Jayme Quintana and a three by Deanna Bustos, the Lady Dons became mired in a mess of their own making — turnovers and bad decisions galore.
Raton didn’t shoot well enough to take full advantage of the opening their hosts left.
Ultimately, that’s what kept West in the game down the stretch. But the Lady Tigers did get to the foul line and with Mikala Vertovec sinking four early free throws and making a basket, Raton briefly took the lead at 14-13. It was 18-16 West at the end of the first period.
West fell deeper into a slump in the second quarter as Raton made an 11-2 run to go up 29-22. At halftime, the visitors led 33-26.
With West’s guards in particular continuing to struggle, Lady Don forwards Roybal and Michelle Tapia labored to pick up the slack in the third period. Tapia made four foul shots, and Roybal converted two old-fashioned three-point plays later in the period.
But with the diminutive but resourceful Medina leading the way, Raton held on to a 45-41 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Tigers led 52-48 inside the final minute but missed the front end of a crucial one-plus-one with 33 seconds left. On the other side, Tapia scored on a putback of a Bustos miss to make it 52-50.
Vertovec missed a one-plus-one foul shot with 16 seconds left, and after West secured the rebound, Trujillo drew contact. She made both clutch free throws, sandwiched around a Raton timeout, to tie the game at 52 with :09 on the clock.
Raton turned the ball over on the ensuing inbounds, and the crowd went wild.
Bustos got hacked, hit the game-winners, and Medina just missed a three.
Unofficial scoring, WLV: Deanna Bustos 15; Maya Roybal 13; Michelle Tapia 8; Celeste Trujillo 8; Francesca Gonzales 4; Jayme Quintana 4; Joedy Quintana 2.
Raton: Brylee Medina 15; Mikala Vertovec 11; Michelle Guara 10; Mariah Romero 10; Leah Cimino 2; Noelle McDonald 2; Tarryn Trujillo 2.