Mountain Range outlasts Legacy in an offensive struggle

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In a rivalry game Jan. 22, both Mountain Range and Legacy brought intensity into their highly-anticipated conference matchup. As the Lady Lightning looked to stay unbeaten in conference play, the Lady Mustangs had a different idea behind a grueling defensive effort to pull out the victory, 33-31.

Legacy, however, did come out swinging, controlling flow, and possession to gather a 9-4 lead after one. Two, 3-pointers by junior Jay Wikoff led the way for the visitors as senior Ariana Ahadi tallied three points herself. The new quarter is when Mountain Range adjusted.

Outscoring the Lady Lightning 16-8, a larger lineup including senior Ashleigh Hinds and juniors Hannah Chavez, Emily Martin allowed the Lady Mustangs to buckle down defensively and force deflections to get out and run. Easy baskets for Chavez (five points), Hinds (four), senior Lillian West (four) and Aaliyah Chavez (three) changed the momentum heading to the break.

“I felt like we came out a little flat with no energy, and we talked about that after the first quarter,” Mountain Range coach Alejandro Jimenez-Lopez said after the game. “Four points isn’t going to cut it in a quarter. I really felt like our defense led out to some outlets. We got out of our zone and went to a little bit of man (to-man defense) and got some deflections. When we are in man, we rebound a lot better, and that’s what kind of jump-started our offense tonight.”

Despite MR finding a flow in the second, both teams went stale offensively in the third — going scoreless the first four minutes and 16 seconds. Legacy sophomore Westbrook Jensen snapped the streak at the free-throw line as both groups combined for only seven points the rest of quarter with the score standing at 25-21 MR.

Three minutes and 33 seconds into the fourth is when a tie (25-25) on the scoreboard was present for the first time since 14-14. Legacy then took the lead 40 seconds later on an Ahadi free-throw make, but it was the last lead the Lightning would retain all night.

Claiming eight of the next 11 points, clutch makes at the charity stripe by Chavez and West put MR up three with 13 seconds remaining. Off of a beautiful play design by Legacy coach Jody Welch, the potential-tying 3-point attempt grazed the back rim to give Moutain Range their second conference win of the season.

“Our motto to our program is ‘defense wins championships,’ and that’s definitely an emphasis of ours is getting stops with one shot and one rebound,” Jimenez-Lopez said. “We communicated better, and they (Legacy) had a motion offense, setting a lot of back screens, and I liked us fighting through them. I really liked our overall effort on defense tonight.”

For Legacy, Wikoff led the group with eight points as senior Halle Mackiewicz and Jensen followed with seven and five, respectively. Mountain Range followed the lead of Chavez and Hinds, who recorded 11 and 10 points apiece. West also tallied nine as the Mustangs now head into the thick of conference play.

“We are super excited. We still have a long way to go, but winning four out of six feels good. Hopefully, the girls can keep their confidence. We have a tough stretch with some good teams coming up, so getting ourselves to play our best basketball and do it defensively like we did tonight, we have an opportunity in a lot of games,” Jimenez-Lopez said.

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