The Tucson Rattlers increased their winning streak to nine games, extending over two tournaments in Las Vegas and Ladera Ranch, Calif., with two more wins Saturday.
One of them was a double-overtime thriller, won 70-68 over the Utah Flash in the first game Saturday of the Summer Swoosh Championships in Ladera Ranch. Tanque Verde senior forward Nikya Orange made last-second shots in regulation and the first overtime to keep the Rattlers’ hopes alive.
They then cruised to a 53-28 win over the Lady Spartans. Their 14-1 record this month is a program record for victories.
They are 4-0 in the Summer Swoosh Championships. They play at 7:30 p.m. Sunday against the Seattle Stars Premier. If the Rattlers win that game, they advance to the Division I Laguna championship game Monday at 11:45 a.m.
The Rattlers were down by eight points with about one minute left in regulation against Utah before rallying behind their defense to force overtime.
Following a driving shot from the wing by Ironwood Ridge junior forward Bella Hamel and two baskets by Summer Fox, a senior guard at Pueblo, off a steal and a stop, the Rattlers cut the lead to 62-60 with 35 seconds left in regulation.
Utah could not convert and Rattlers coach Chris Klassen set up a play with 2 seconds left following a timeout. The sideline play for Orange worked as she caught the ball on right block and converted as time expired.
In the two-minute overtime, the teams traded scores in the first five possessions — Orange and Hamel made their attempts — before Klassen called a timeout with one second remaining. Fox found Orange at the rim on another sideline play and Orange quickly made the shot to force double overtime.
The second overtime was only 1 minute. After the Rattlers missed in their first possession, Fox stole the attempted Utah outlet pass and was fouled with 12 seconds left. She made both free throws to give the Rattlers a 70-68 lead.
Utah called timeout with 7 seconds left. A guard’s attempt to get a shot off at the buzzer from on top of the key was blocked by Hamel, who had nine points and 10 rebounds in the win.
“Crazy up and down game that went back and forth and just an unreal ending,” Klassen said. “So fun coaching that game.”
Orange finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Fox’s line: 21 points, nine assists and seven steals.
In the second game, Fox and Hamel led the Rattlers with four steals apiece. Fox has 69 steals in the 15 games this month. Hamel also had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Orange had 12 points (on 6 of 9 shooting from the field).
Marana junior guard Antoinette “Andy” Audiss contributed nine points and three steals and Ironwood Ridge senior guard Caroline Finster had seven points and six rebounds.