Lady Sundevils beat Capital, Take Over First Place in District

by Staff Reporter / Feb 13, 2018 / comments
Española’s Kaylee Chavez drives against Capital. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Lady Sundevils beat Capital, Take Over First Place in District

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

The Española Valley High School girls basketball team took over first place in District 2-5A with a 48-38 victory over Capital High School Feb. 10 at Española. Avenging an earlier 49-41 loss Jan. 24 to the Lady Jaguars, the Lady Sundevils improved to 5-1 in District 2-5A, while Capital fell to 4-2 with its second loss in District 2-5A. Del Norte High School beat the Lady Jaguars 36-30 Feb. 7 at Santa Fe.

The Sundevils used a couple of buzzer-beaters to stay ahead of the Jaguars in the first half. The first quarter was slow and neither team produced much offense. Freshman Anita DeAguero provided the excitement. With Capital leading 6-5, she threw in a long three-pointer that beat the buzzer and gave Española an 8-6 lead.

Española’s Anita DeAguero drives and shoots against Capital. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Capital came back to take a 14-12 lead in the second quarter after a basket by Alyssa Martinez. Española came back and Kaylee Chavez’s three-pointer gave the Sundevils a 20-16 lead. Capital came back and a free throw by Miranda Cortez had the Jaguars within a point of Española 20-19 with 27 seconds left in the first half.

With time running out, Chavez launched a 30-footer from just past midcourt that banked in off the glass that gave Española a 23-19 lead at halftime.

“We practice those kind of shots a lot in practice,” Chavez said. 

Capital came back and took a 26-25 lead in the third quarter on a three-pointer by Martinez. Española had an answer and it was delivered by a player who was just returning to action for the Sundevils.

Destiny Valdez launches one of her three three-pointers against Capital. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Destiny Valdez had missed over a month of action recovering from a severe concussion. She drained a three-pointer from the corner to put Española back in front. After a basket by Jasmine Baca, Valdez nailed another three-pointer to finish off an 8-0 run that gave the Sundevils a 33-26 lead.

Española’s Jasmine Baca drives against Capital. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

“I’ve been working on that shot since I was injured,” Valdez said. “When I came back I wanted to contribute and get us back to state, not just be another body out there.”

Despite her absence, Española Coach Bobby Romero had faith in his freshman shooter.

“We finally got her back and she hit some pretty big buckets,” Coach Romero said. “I know she can hit that shot.”

Her coach’s confidence helped Valdez have the nerves to shoot.

“Knowing he has faith in me brings my confidence up,” Valdez said.

The Sundevils led 33-28 heading into the fourth quarter. Capital twice cut Española’s lead down to a single point. Valdez had the ball beyond the three-point arc, but instead of shooting she fired a pass under the basket to Baca. Baca canned a close-range basket. After Capital missed a pair of free throws, DeAguero drove down the lane for a layup that gave Española a 39-34 lead.

A three-pointer by Cortez cut Española’s lead down to two points. Chavez answered with a driving layup. After a turnover by Capital, Valdez nailed her third three-pointer to give the Sundevils a 44-37 lead.

Española milked the clock on its remaining possessions and Capital struggled to score. With 17.1 seconds left in the game, Kaylinn Martinez sank a pair of free throws to make the score 46-38 in favor of the Sundevils. Española had some fun on the game’s final basket. DeAguero was driving for an apparent layup, but then she left the ball behind her in the air. Chavez grabbed it and sank the final two points of Española’s 48-38 victory.

Chavez led Española with 12 points and Baca scored 10 points for the Sundevils.

“Honestly, if we keep a positive attitude we’re going to go places,” Baca said.

It was the third district win for the Sundevils since Romero took over as coach, replacing Johnny Abeyta. Abeyta was placed on administrative leave.

“They’re hanging in there and being patient,” Coach Romero said. “We’re getting to where we need to be. We’re playing better team basketball and spreading the wealth.

Española has its destiny in its hands. By defeating Los Alamos High School Tuesday (2/12) at Española and Del Norte High School Friday (2/16) in Albuquerque, the Sundevils can win the District 2-5A regular season title and the automatic bid to the Class 5A state basketball playoffs that goes with it. A loss by Española and two wins by Capital in the Jaguars’ remaining district games could result in a tie for first place.