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HS BASKETBALL:

Sierra Vista controls its own playoff destiny after beating Western

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Leila Navidi

Sierra Vista players Dallin Molina, left, and Donovan Williams, right, block Western player Landon White from getting a rebound during their boys basketball game at Western High School in Las Vegas Wednesday, January 26, 2011.

Sierra Vista vs. Western

KSNV coverage of Sun high school basketball game of the week, Sierra Vista vs. Western, Jan. 26, 2011.

Sierra Vista at Western Boys Basketball

Viko Noma'aea, left, of Sierra Vista battles Kenyon Washington of Western during their boys basketball game at Western High School in Las Vegas Wednesday, January 26, 2011. Launch slideshow »
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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.

Grier led Sierra Vista with 17 points, Odabi had 12 and Dallin Molina added 9. Kentrell Washington led Western with 15 points, while Aaron Buckley had 13.

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