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Trojans come roaring back, but fall short

The Lady Trojans basketball team lost a heartbreaker on Tuesday night to Western, 29-28, at home in a battle for third place.

With just 26 seconds to go, the girls were down by two and junior Alyvia Briscoe sank a 3-pointer to put Pahrump (8-11 overall, 2-3 Sunset League) ahead by one, 28-27.

With just 10 seconds left, the Warriors (9-8, 3-2) were not out. Western’s Millani Johnson hit for two, which gave them the lead with three seconds left. The Trojans tried to take the ball down the court, but just didn’t have enough time to get a shot off.

Pahrump had dug themselves a 19-7 hole by halftime. The first half was so bad that the girls only scored two points in the first quarter.

“We just couldn’t shoot at all the first half,” Lady Trojans coach Bob Hopkins said. “We had Bethany Calvert, Koral Hearn and Isabelle Mesa didn’t attempt any shots in the first half and the coaches thought I had told them not to shoot. We were just not moving properly in the first half.”

The second half was a different story. According to Hopkins, this was the best half of ball the girls played all year long.

The girls came out in the third quarter and just played their game.

“I didn’t really make any adjustments,” Hopkins said. “I just told them to play harder and they did.”

The Trojans defense blanked the Warriors in the third quarter, outscoring them 7-0. A key factor to the scoring of the second half was the free-throw shooting of C’mone Wray-Ball, who came off the bench and shot five out of six free throws.

“She knows what is expected of her coming off the bench and I told her she could play the whole second half because of her passing abilities,” the coach said.

Another offensive key was Briscoe hitting two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and one layup.

“If we play like that second half all the time, we can play with anyone,” the coach said. “Our problem is we don’t play all four quarters. We go stretches without scoring and then we’ve got to play defense.”

He also said the girls had some minor injuries and key players getting sick lately.

The Trojans fall to fourth place and are still in contention for the playoffs, which take the top four in each league. The girls start the second half of the season on Thursday, which was past deadline.

“We play Sunrise Mountain (0-12, 0-5), (played on Thursday), Boulder City on Friday and then Mojave (9-12, 1-4) on Monday,” he said. “We went 10 days last week without playing and now we will be in game mode.”

Western, like Pahrump had a coaching change and it showed. Western girls are far more aggressive this year.

The new Warriors coach is Phillip Payne, a wide receiver for UNLV from 2008 to 2011, and a graduate of Western.

“I always wanted to come back, but I never thought it would be in this aspect,” Payne said.

to NevadaPreps.com. “This is where it essentially started for me, so to be able to jump-start something for these kids is a great thing to me. I can push them to do great things.”

Payne even made it to the NFL signing in 2012 as an undrafted free agent and he spent some time in the Arena Football League.

He enrolled in the Clark County School District’s Alternative Routes to Licensure (ARL) Program and last year became an assistant for Western’s JV boys basketball team and then took over the girls program this year.

He is thinking about someday coaching for the struggling Western football program but for now, he is concentrating on turning around the girls basketball program.

Tonight the Trojans host Boulder City (7-11, 3-2), a team they barely beat, 27-26, on Dec. 14. The game is at 5 p.m.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at pvtimes.com

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