Lady Sundevils Come Back To Claim Victory Over Capital

by Staff Reporter / Feb 28, 2018 / comments
The Española Valley High School girls basketball team beat Capital High School 45-42 in the championship game of the District 2-5A tournament Feb. 24 in Española to win the District 2-5A championship. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Lady Sundevils Come Back To Claim Victory Over Capital

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

The Española Valley High School Lady Sundevils fought from behind for most of the game against Capital High School in the District 2-5A tournament championship basketball game Feb. 23 at Española. The never-say-die Sundevils took the lead 43-42 with just 30.6 seconds left in the game when Kaylinn Martinez drained two free throws. The Lady Jaguars never scored again and Española went on to take a 45-42 victory to claim the District 2-5A championship.

Española’s Kaylinn Martinez goes to the basket against Capital. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post


Martinez, daughter of former Española Valley boys basketball coach Richard Martinez, didn’t need to be reminded of how important free throws can be when she stepped to the line to shoot the front end of a one-and-one. She recalled the words of her father.

“Free throws are the one thing you have to make,” she said. “Stay calm. Try not to let my arms tense up.”

Make them she did. The rattled Jaguars turned the ball over when Jaylynn Padilla poked the ball away and it finally ended up in the hands of Kaylee Chavez, who had hit two big three-pointers after Capital had taken a 40-35 lead with 1:19 left in the game.

Española’s Kaylee Chavez drives between two Capital defenders. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Chavez missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Capital couldn’t corral the rebound and lost it out of bounds. Española retained possession. Meranda Salazar was fouled on the ensuing inbounds play and she made her first free throw to make the score 44-42, but missed her second. The Jaguars grabbed the rebound, but lost the outlet pass out of bounds. Martinez was fouled and was at the line again. She made one of her two shots with 6-4 seconds left for a 45-42 lead. Capital’s last second shot drew nothing but air and Española had snatched the game away from Capital.

The Sundevils Capital had taken the lead in the first quarter. After Española’s Destiny Valdez opened the scoring with a three-pointer, the Jaguars hit five straight free throws. Española’s shots were doing everything but falling through the net and Capital was grabbing every rebound. A putback by Ethena Silva and a basket by Ishara Sorenson gave the Jaguars a 9-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Española’s Destiny Valdez shoots a jumper against Capital. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

The shots still weren’t falling for Española in the second quarter. Capital built a 14-3 lead before Padilla finally drained a pair of free throws with 4:46 left in the first half, ending a near 10-minute scoring drought for the Sundevils. The Jaguars built a 20-7 lead before Martinez buried a long three-pointer. Martinez came up with a steal and a layup on Capital’s next possession that cut the Jaguars lead to 20-12 at halftime.

Española had cut the lead to 23-20 after another three-pointer by Martinez in the third quarter. The Jaguars put together seven unanswered points that increased their lead to 30-20. It could have been worse, but Capital missed six straight free throws during the run.

Trailing 32-22, Española began to claw its way back. An old-fashioned, three-point play by Martinez followed by a three-pointer from the corner by Christianne Sandoval made the score 32-28. After a pair of free throws by Capital, Valdez nailed a three-pointer that made the score 34-31 at the end of the third quarter.

“The third quarter is the most important quarter,” Española Coach Bobby Romero said. “I felt that if we were within six points, we can beat any team we play. At halftime, we were down eight (points). I told them not to panic. Believe in yourselves and believe in me. They believed in what I was telling them.”

Capital took a 39 -33 lead in the fourth quarter, but had missed 4-of-5 free throws that could have increased their lead. Padilla sank a pair of free throws to make the score 39-35 with 2:08 left in the game. A free throw by Miranda Cortez gave Capital a 40-35 lead with 1:19 left to play.

Española’s Destiny Valdez dribbles against Capital. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Chavez, who had made just one shot and missed many more up to then, wasted little time in providing a lift for the Sundevils. She took the ball downcourt and launched a long three-pointer that hit nothing but net to make the score 40-38 with 1:07 left.

“My team kept telling me that they believed in me,” Chavez said. “I thought we needed to get momentum. Hitting that three, we got the confidence that we could do it.”

Chavez wasn’t done yet. After Capital’s Audrey Gonzales nailed two free throws to make the score 42-38, Chavez launched another long three-pointer that fell through the net to make the score 42-41. On Capital’s ensuing inbounds play, Chavez stole the ball and passed it to Martinez. That led to the two free throws by Martinez that gave Española its first lead since early in the first quarter.

The game drew the biggest crowd of the season to witness an Española girls basketball game, which played into the Sundevils’ hands as the crowd’s cheers grew louder and louder during Española’s game-winning surge.

“We were like ‘Wow,’” Martinez said. “We finally have support and people are coming to see us. It built our confidence.” Española’s Kaylinn Martinez goes up for a layup against Capital. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

The Sundevils will spend Sunday (2/25) glued to their television or listening for a phone call to find out where they will be seeded in Class 5A for the upcoming State Basketball Tournament. There will be 16 teams selected for the tournament. Coming into the game, Española was ranked ninth in the statewide coach’s poll and 11th in the statewide MaxPreps poll. The top eight seeds will host an opening-round game of the Tournament Friday or Saturday.