Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer recap Findlay Prep's double overtime victory against Bishop Gorman. Brewer says the game, which brought 12 college coaches and 2,500 people to the Cox Pavilion, was the best high school contest he's ever seen.
The Sierra Vista High basketball team’s 66-59 victory Wednesday against host Western puts the Mountain Lions in an excellent position to make a memorable postseason run.
Sure, they have seven league games remaining in the Southwest Division and could easily slip up down the home stretch of the regular season.
But the victory against Western put the Mountain Lions (18-3, 8-2) in the driver’s seat to claim the No. 2 seed from the Southwest for next week’s Sunset Regional tournament. The No. 2 seed hosts a first-round playoff game and avoids having to play two-time defending state champion Bishop Gorman until the regional finals.
And, with the state event at the Orleans Arena, a loss in the regional finals could still result in a berth at state. The losers of the regional finals from the Sunrise and Sunset regions play in a play-in game for the final of four spots at state.
Western, which in the first week of the season beat Sierra Vista 87-70, fell to 6-4 in the Southwest and will have to fight for a playoff berth despite a 17-5 overall record and promising start to the season. Spring Valley, Durango and Western each have four losses, and Sierra Vista owns the tie-breaker against all three teams.
So, while it’s not official, there’s a good chance the Mountain Lions will be the No. 2 seed. Just don’t tell that to coach Kent Johnson.
Johnson is stressing to his players to not be complacent, especially with a game Friday against nearby rival Desert Oasis. The schools always play close games.
“Yeah, we have the inside track, but we have to take care of business,” Johnson said. “There is still a lot of basketball to play. But we are really happy right now. We control our own destiny and that is what we wanted.”
Against Western, Sierra Vista led by 15 points in the second quarter, building its lead by draining 3-pointers — baskets by Justice Odabi, Dylan Goings and Maiscei Grier — on three consecutive possessions.
But Sierra Vista couldn’t sustain its momentum, allowing Western to get hot at the right time in the third quarter to grab a three-point lead.
“We have a certain lineup that when they go in there, they give us a spark,” said Viko Noma’aea, Sierra Vistia's team captain, who finished with nine points. “That was the squad that went in there and got us up by (15 points). But once we get those big leads, we tend to get a little sloppy. We can’t stop playing defense like that.”
The teams went back and forth until late in the contest. That’s when Sierra Vista closed the game on a 9-1 run over the final two minutes, using four points from Grier and a pair of free throws from Aaron Clark to pull away.
A fresh coat of paint and a fresh perspective are among the changes being made around Western High School.
Western is one of five turnaround schools that missed the marks set by No Child Left Behind and now faces the challenge of increasing student achievement.
The school is the third oldest in the district and its campus lies near Decatur Boulevard and Veterans Memorial Highway. The majority of students attending Western are minorities from disadvantaged homes. Western is known for having a rough past, but students are optimistic about the future of their school.
Change is apparent according to students interviewed in September.
“When I was in eighth grade, I was told I was going to get shot or stabbed when I came to Western,” said senior Kole Yanez, 17. “That might have been true 15 years ago, but now, you don’t see that here.”
Rules are tightly enforced on campus. The school keeps a strict dress code policy and cell phone use during class time is not permitted.
Halls are designated by grade level giving students a sense of ownership and community. Pride is clearly visible at pep rallies and sporting events. The newfound pride might just be he medicine needed to alleviate the 8 percent dropout rate, the highest in the district.
“It’s like building a house. You need a strong foundation,” said Neddy Alvarez, principal. “You need those strong relationships. When kids know we care about them, the learning will take place.”
- Year built:
- Principal (Year Hired):
- Neddy Alvarez (2008)
- Mission Statement:
- “The mission of Western High School is to promote scholarship, encourage good citizenship, and embrace our cultural diversity.”
- Approximately 2,400
- Notable alumni:
- Frank Hawkins, former NFL player
Capt. Nicole Malachowski, first female Thunderbird
Ronnie Vannucci, drummer of The Killers
Tom Collins, Clark County commissioner
- School Report Card:
Compiled by Gregan Wingert