KINGMAN The Kingman High girls basketball team has played its fair share of close games this season.
And while the Lady Bulldogs' 49-38 win on Friday night against Boulder Creek was a comfortable margin of victory, neither team had a lead greater than five points until the final minute of the game.
Tennil Reed scored 18 of her game-high 20 points in the second half and Sidney Reed hit a momentum-changing 3-pointer with 2:31 left to deflate the Jaguars, who failed to make a field goal the rest of the night.
"It was her only bucket of the game, but it was maybe the biggest shot in the game," Kingman coach Darrin Peppard said of Sidney's basket. "(Kristen) Gonzalez hit a big shot after that and you could see the crowd get louder and our confidence grow. It's somebody different every night, and you never know who it's going to be."
Ahead 40-38, Kingman (11-12, 7-5 Northwest Region) landed the final blow with a six-point swing in one trip down the court. Tennil converted a three-point play and a technical foul shot and Kamber Butler sunk a pair of free throws before the Bulldogs put the ball back in the Jaguars' (11-13, 4-8) hands.
"I've learned that a minute is longer than you think, and you can't let off until the buzzer goes off," Tennil said. "Two years ago we could have never pulled that off. We just know how to play now. We've done it too many times."
The Bulldogs are 8-4 this season when the game is decided by 10 points or less, but 3-4 in games decided by five points or less. And as Kingman played from behind for most of the game, Peppard said his team "grew up" on Friday night.
"We talked many times that talk is cheap and you gotta go show it and play every possession like it means something," he said. "And we did that in the fourth quarter."
Despite shooting 1-for-13 and watching Boulder Creek's Ashley Zeek score eight straight point inside in the first quarter, Kingman managed to only be down 15-14 at halftime when Danielle Hale's putback climbed over the rim just before the horn. Zeek stopped the Bulldogs' 6-0 run out of the break with another close-range basket, but was a non-factor the rest of the way with Rachael Bracy in front of her.
"I can't say enough about Rachael's effort," Peppard said. "We may not see it in the scoring column, but she is playing really hard and really well."
With Bracy leading the defensive charge, Tennil steered the Bulldogs' offense, scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter and making six of her final nine free-throw attempts.
"We wanted to finish it strong and not have any regrets," she said. "We know that we're the stronger team. They're not going to play four quarters of basketball, but we are."
Butler added seven points and Bracy finished with six points and 10 rebounds for Kingman. Zeek lead Boulder Creek with 13 points and Sarah Martin scored 10 more.
Kingman finishes its regular season home schedule on Tuesday against Goldwater, but will likely host its first-round game in the Northwest Region Tournament on Feb. 13, possibly against the Jaguars.
"I thought Boulder Creek played extremely well," Peppard said. "And knowing that we can struggle in the first half and keep battling against a team that plays as well as it can and still find a way to win is going to help our confidence."