Elkettes Take Title At Ben Lujan

by Staff Reporter / Dec 20, 2017 / comments
The Pojoaque Valley Elkettes won the title at the Ben Lujan Tournament, defeating West Las Vegas 52-39 in the championship game Dec. 16 at Pojoaque. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Elkettes Take Title At Ben Lujan

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

After breezing through their first two games at the Ben Lujan Tournament hosted by Pojoaque Valley High School, the host Elkettes faced a stiffer challenge in the championship game Dec. 16 at Pojoaque. The Lady Dons of West Las Vegas High School, a future District 2-4A rival of the Elkettes, were 6-1 on the season. Pojoaque came into the game with an 8-1 record, but most of their victories had been blowout wins over smaller and/or struggling teams.

Pojoaque’s Taylor Roybal shoots a jumper against West Las Vegas. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

The Elkettes’ convincing 52-39 victory over the Dons in the championship game will go a long way towards establishing Pojoaque as a legitimate contender in District 2-4A and Class 4A.

Class 4A Pojoaque had no problem defeating Class 2A Mesa Vista High School 59-23 Dec. 14 in the opening round of the tournament. In the semifinals Dec. 15, Class 2A Mora High School was no match for the Elkettes. Pojoaque pounded the Rangerettes 60-19, highlighted by a 24-point third quarter during which junior Adrianna Quintana drained back-to-back-to-back three-pointers.

Quintana is just one piece in the team that Pojoaque Coach Seledon Martinez has been building. Now in his third season with the Elkettes, Martinez has built a solid team out of the eighth-graders, freshman and sophomores he has had since he took over as coach in the 2015-2016 season. There’s his two posts, senior Shania Thronas and sophomore Ashten Martinez. There’s junior point guard Taylor Roybal, whom Coach Martinez has started since she was a freshman.

Pojoaque’s Taylor Roybal puts up a shot against the Lady Dons. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Senior guard Dallas Archibald is often the beneficiary of the turnovers created by Pojoaque’s pressing defense, finishing with layups. Steady sophomore wing Michaela Martinez quietly has led the Elkettes in scoring in several games. There are more pieces to the puzzle and all 11 players on Pojoaque’s roster are capable of putting in productive time off the bench for the Elkettes.

Pojoaque’s Michaela Martinez scores against West Las Vegas. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

It’s not just their coach who realizes the importance of every piece. Pojoaque’s players know that together they are stronger as a team than as individuals.

“We’re coming together a lot,” Archibald said. “We’ve been putting it together and coming up with the “W”. We trust each other, in whoever is passing or shooting.”

The Dons rely on the outside shooting of Jenna Bustos, Brianna Marquez and Cameron Sandoval. Marquez had lit up the scoreboard for 34 points in the Dons’ 61-54 victory over Penasco High School in the semifinals. Bustos is not afraid to shoot from practically anywhere beyond the three-point arc.

Bustos did just that to start the championship game, draining a long three-pointer to give the Dons’ an early 3-0 lead. The Elkettes came back and took the lead 5-3 on Michaela Martinez’s drive down the court for a layup and foul that led to an old-fashioned, three-point play.

Pojoaque’s Michaela Martinez fights for the ball under the basket. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

After a three=pointer by Quintana that she followed up with a pair of free throws gave the Elkettes a 15-7 lead, another three-pointer by Bustos made the score 15-10 at the end of the first quarter.

The free-throw line was where most of the scoring took place in the second quarter. The Elkettes went 7-of-8 from the line, while West Las Vegas was 5-of-8 from the charity stripe. Baskets by Roybal and Michaela Martinez gave Pojoaque a 25-17 lead. A three-pointer by Sandoval made the score 25-20 at halftime.

Pojoaque missed shots and lost track of Bustos on defense for the first four minutes of the third quarter. The Dons put together a 10-2 run, highlighted by two three-pointers from Bustos. Her second long bomb gave West Las Vegas a 30-27 lead. Pojoaque’s press was not producing the turnovers it normally does, keeping the Elkettes from scoring in transition.

Coach Martinez felt his team was turning into spectators.

“We weren’t moving,” he said. “We were watching the game.”

Pojoaque snapped out of its stupor by pounding the ball inside to Thronas, who scored six straight points.

Pojoaque’s Shania Thronas scores against West Las Vegas. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

“We started pounding the ball inside to open up the outside,” Archibald said.

The press started producing turnovers. A putback by Ashten Martinez finished off a 9-0 run that gave Pojoaque a 36-30 lead. The Elkettes led 36-33 heading into the fourth quarter.

Pojoaque’s Ashten Martinez drives to the basket between two defenders. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

The Elkettes defense started to play more aggressively and Bustos didn’t score in the fourth quarter. Pojoaque held Marquez to just four points, all from the free-throw line. A three-pointer by Michaela Martinez finished off a 12-2 run that gave the Elkettes a 48-35 lead. The Elkettes kept the ball in Roybal’s hands down the stretch and she hit four straight free throws to ice the game in the Elkettes 52-39 victory.

“She’s my point guard,” Coach Martinez said. “That’s part of her job is to hit free throws.”

Pojoaque improved to 9-1 on the season. Coach Martinez doesn’t dwell on whether the Elkettes should be considered a contender just yet.

“If I do that, I’ll lose focus on what I need to do,” he said. “We still got a lot of work to do. Come Monday at seven in the morning, we’ll be back at it.”