Sierra’s Aubrey Robinson isn’t a big fan of free throws.
“I was actually pretty nervous,” Robinson said of shooting from the line Tuesday night. “Free throws are where I struggle.”
But there was no cause for concern. All seven points that Robinson scored in the second quarter – and nine of her 11 first half points – came from the charity stripe, as she helped Sierra beat Eagle Valley 63-40 in the first round of the 4A girls’ basketball state playoffs.
The junior transfer from Harrison – who only played 12 games for Sierra (15-9) in the regular season – finished with a season-high 21 points.
No. 30 seed Sierra, which will play Evergreen on Friday, had lost its previous two games entering the playoffs.
“Our heads just weren’t there in the last few games,” Robinson said. “But tonight we were mentally here, and we brought it.”
Sierra held a 9-6 lead after the first frame.
“That was our youth,” Sierra coach Joe Williams said of his team’s slow start. “We had some jitters, but we used our defense to get our offense going, and we were able to concentrate from there.”
The Stallions began to press, making things uncomfortable for Eagle Valley. The press, and the defense on Sierra’s half of the court, was so good that Eagle Valley didn’t score until almost half the quarter had elapsed. By halftime, the Sierra lead was 31-16.
Eagle Valley’s Kylie Martin finished with 19 points.
Williams said a large part of the Stallions’ game plan was to deny Martin the ball. Sierra rotated four defenders on her. It worked to a certain extent as Martin didn’t score in the fourth quarter.
“Each (defender) does something different,” Williams said. “That, combined with good ball pressure from our guards, made a difference.”
Freshman D’Nae Wilson added 12 points and the lone senior on the team, Malaynah Palaroan, had 10 for Sierra in the win.
“We have to come back and play good defense,” Robinson said. “We have to use our athleticism to keep pushing teams.”