Friday, Feb. 20, 2009 | 11:37 p.m.
Early in the first quarter of the Sunrise Regional Semifinals on Friday, Jazmine Jarvis, the Green Valley High girls basketball team's leading scorer, hyper-extended her knee taking her out of the game and seemingly opening a window for the lower-seeded Liberty.
And While the Patriots capitalized for a 29-23 halftime lead, the Gators rallied in the second half, dominated the boards and pulled out the win to earn their second straight trip to the Sunrise Regional Finals on Saturday.
Led by juniors Danielle Christenson and Sarah Pickus, the Gators out-scored the Patriots 30-9 in the second half for a 53-38 victory.
Green Valley coach Lorenzo Jarvis said he was proud of the adjustments the Gators made after halftime and how they were able to put up big numbers even without Jazmine Jarvis on the court.
"With their leader hurt we knew someone was going to have to step up and take the lead," Lorenzo Jarvis said. "All year I've been saying that this is a true team, not just one or two players. After they got over the initial shock of Jazmine getting hurt, they fought back the way I knew they would."
Pickus posted nine second half points (16 overall) while Christenson scored 15 in the second half for a game-high 19 total.
Defensively, the night belonged to senior center Vajae Robinson who pulled down 25 rebounds with eight blocks to stop Liberty from establishing any type of presence in the post.
"I think this was a big statement from us," Robinson said. "When Jazmine got hurt we were all nervous for her but we came back and showed we can still win. I think we're ready (to win the region)."
Sophomore point guard Jade Washington led the Patriots with 12 points but was held to only two in the second half. Junior forward Daynice Cochran had a team high 17 rebounds but it wasn't enough to stop the surging Gators.
"I told the girls before the game that everyone had counted us out already and penciled Green Valley and Silverado in the finals," Liberty coach Chris Zunno said. "They were fired up and came out with something to prove. In the second half (Green Valley) tightened their defense and we just couldn't get penetration."
The Gators now move on to face Silverado at Liberty on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Gators swept the season series taking the Skyhawks by scores of 64-49 and 61-45 this season. However, the Gators won both regular season match-ups
last year only to lose to the 'Hawks in the regional finals.
"We're just going to have to go out and play hard," Lorenzo Jarvis said. "There's no tomorrow at this point in the season. It's going to come down to hard work and desire."
The 'Hawks earned their way into the finals after a 51-31 win over Coronado on Friday afternoon.
Jared Harmon can be reached at 990-8922 or firstname.lastname@example.org.