Lady Sundevils Take Consolation Title at Capital

by Staff Reporter / Dec 05, 2017 / comments
Española’s Destiny Valdez scores against Pecos. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Lady Sundevils Take Consolation Title at Capital

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

The Española Valley High School girls basketball team keeps taking steps forward to prove themselves. The Lady Sundevils overcame a tough loss against defending Class 5A state champion Goddard High School in the opening round and won its next two games to take the consolation championship of the Al Armendariz Tournament Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at Capital High School in Santa Fe. Española defeated Pecos High School 57-31 Dec. 2 in the consolation championship.

“Every single game we improved,” Española Coach Johnny Abeyta said. “They played hard today and put a lot of effort into their execution.”

In their opening game, the Sundevils stayed with the defending champion Lady Rockets throughout the first and third quarters. The score was tied 7-7 at the end of the first quarter. Goddard outscored Española 16-8 in the second quarter to lead 23-15 at halftime. The Rockets lead was still eight points 32-24 after three quarters.

Española’s Kaylee Chavez scores against Pecos. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

 

In the fourth quarter, the Sundevils quickly sliced the lead down to three points 32-29 after a basket by Kaylee Garcia and a three-pointer by Kaylinn Martinez. Española was within two points 34-32 after a three-pointer by Garcia.

Española’s Kaylinn Martinez dishes off to a teammate under the basket against Pecos. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

The Rockets extended their lead to 40-32 and led 43-34 going into the final minute of the game. A five-point flurry by Española narrowed the lead down to four points. The Sundevils had a chance to get to within one point and put added pressure on the Rockets, but missed a couple of three-pointers in the final 15 seconds. Goddard hung on for a 43-39 victory.

The Sundevils faced a familiar foe coached by a familiar face in the first round of the consolation bracket. Santa Fe High School had been the Sundevils rival in district competition for years before being moved up to Class 6A from Class 5A in 2014. The Demonettes are now coached by Cindy Roybal, who last season had led the Sundevils to within a point of playing for the Class 5A state championship. Roybal chose not to return to Española after being asked to reapply for her position as girls basketball coach. She was subsequently hired at Santa Fe.

The score was tied 21-21 going into the fourth quarter. The Demonettes took a 23-21 lead. Abasket by Jasmine Baca tied the score.

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

Santa Fe took a one-point lead, but Española surged back in front 26=24 after a three-pointer. Santa Fe answered with a three-pointer to take a one-point lead Española went back in front 29-27 after a three-pointer by Destiny Valdez. With 3:31 left to play, Santa Fe tied the score 29-29.

Española’s Destiny Valdez drives to the basket against Pecos. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Española ran time off the clock, but then turned the ball over. Santa Fe’s Taylor Salazar gave the Demonettes a 31-29 lead with a pair of free throws. Española missed a shot. The Demonettes came up with the ball and called a timeout.

That proved costly for the Demonettes, as they didn’t have any timeouts left. A technical foul was assessed against Santa Fe. Española’s Kaylinn Martinez sank two free throws to tie the score. The game went into overtime with the score tied 31-31 at the end of regulation.

In the four-minute overtime period, both teams missed chances at the free-throw line to take the lead. Chavez scored to give the Sundevils a 33-31 lead. The Demonettes turned the ball over on a traveling call. Martinez went to the free-throw line with eight seconds left. She made one free throw and missed the next, making the score 34-31. Santa Fe had a chance to tie the game from the free-throw line with 2.5 seconds left after being fouled on a three-point attempt. The Demonettes made just one of three free throws and Española took a 34-32 victory.

After two close games, the Sundevils had an easier time in the consolation finals against Pecos, who are coached by another ex-Española coach Ron Drake. The Class 3A Lady Panthers were no match for the Class 5A Sundevils. Pecos actually took a 7-2 lead early in the game. Española’s fullcourt pressure proved to be too much for the Panthers. Española forced five straight turnovers. The Sundevils scored 11 unanswered points to take a 13-7 lead. The Sundevils led 22-11 after the first quarter behind 10 first-quarter points by Martinez. Española led 34-21 at halftime.

The Panthers managed to cut the lead to 36-26 in the third quarter. Once again, turnovers took their toll and Española reeled off another 11-0 run that started with a three-pointer by Chavez and ended with a three-pointer by Samantha Gasca. The Sundevils led 47-27 heading into the fourth quarter.

“I want to be able to put pressure on the other team the whole game,” Coach Abeyta said. “That’s why we play a lot of players. We want to develop that talent. If we don’t let them play, they’re not going to grow. We want them to grow.”

Pecos managed just four points in the fourth quarter and Española pulled away to a 57-31 victory. Chavez and Martinez were named to the All-Tournament team for the Sundevils.

Española improved to 3-2 on the season. The Sundevils face Class 6A Rio Rancho High School Thursday (12/7) in the opening round of the Rio Rancho Tournament in Rio Rancho.

“We’re beginning to resemble the team we’re going to be at the end of the year,” Coach Abeyta said.