The Virgin Valley High School Lady Bulldog basketball team had only one hurdle left to win the 3A Sunrise League title Friday night. They were facing their archrival Moapa Valley in the unfriendly Pirates Den. The Bulldogs trailed for most of the game until reserve Taylor Barnum, subbing for Brianna Todd who fouled out, took advantage of a loose ball hitting the winning basket as the buzzer went off. A deafening roar from the huge following of Bulldog fans silenced the home town crowd who could not believe their eyes as the Bulldogs celebrated a 40-39 victory.
The Pirates, to the delight of the home town crowd, took advantage of numerous Bulldog turnovers led 13-9 after one period of play. The Pirates scuttled the Dawgs with two three’s. The Bulldogs would have the lead only once, 8-7 until the last period. The Bulldog offense could not get untracked as they fell behind 20-11 midway through the second period. A put back by Bernice Fiso, a three from Todd plus a short jumper by Todd cut the Pirates lead to 22-18. The Pirates added a free throw to finish with an 23-18 advantage after one half of play. Emma Barnum had six points in the half followed by Fiso and Todd with five points. The Dawgs had 12 turnovers in the half.
The Bulldog defense settled down in the third period allowing only three baskets but they were all three balls keeping the Pirates up 32-26 with one quarter remaining in the game. The Bulldogs had no answer for the six three point shots the Pirates made in the first three periods. The Pirates opened the fourth period with a three ball, giving the Pirates a 35-26 lead, early in the period. The Bulldogs, as they did in an earlier win over the Pirates, seemed to wake up their defense forcing Pirate errors giving their offense the opportunity to score. Todd hit for two points, Taylor Barnum put back two underneath and Emma Barnum finished the rally with a three ball plus a short jumper to tie the game 35-35 with 1:14 remaining in the game. The Pirates would not go away, hitting a free throw plus another three ball to take a, 39-35 lead with seconds remaining. Free throws by Fiso and Jessie Barnum cut the lead to 39-37 with 17.1 remaining in the game setting up Taylor Barnum’s heroics. Todd picked up an intentional foul, her fifth and exited the game. The Pirate shooter missed both free throws giving the Bulldogs a chance to tie the game. Taylor Barnum missed the front end of two free throws, making the second to cut the Pirates lead to 39-38 with 5:7 seconds remaining. A quick time out by Bulldogs coach Chimane Creer set the defense for the amazing finish. The Pirates made a huge mental mistake not throwing the inbounds pass down court ending the game. They instead attempted to force the ball on court between two Bulldog defenders, T. Barnum picked up the loose ball and the rest is history. Despite making 8 three pointers in the game, the Pirates lost at the free throw line, hitting only 3-17 attempts. Emma Barnum and Fiso led the Bulldogs with 11 points followed by Fiso with 9 points and Taylor Barnum with 8 points. The win gives the Dawgs an 8-0 record in league play and 18-3 overall. The Bulldogs have two league games remaining in regular season play, Tuesday Feb 6 hosting TECH and Feb.8 traveling to Del Sol. The Bulldogs will host a quarterfinal game on Feb.15. The semi-finals and finals will be held at Sunrise High School on Feb. 16 and 18.