The Pojoaque Valley High School girlsbasketball team won the championship atthe Ben Lujan Invitational tournament. The Elkettes defeated Penasco High School 51-37 in the championship game Dec. 22 atPojoaque. Team members are: Taylor Roybal (back, left), Camille Cordova, Alicia Sanchez, Michaela Martinez, Tonni Aquino, Adrianna quintana. Sara Vigil (front left), Ashten Martinez, Hennessie Calabaza, Anissa Herrera.
By George Morse Sports and Outdoors
Elkettes Take Title at Ben Lujan, Now 10-0
The Pojoaque Valley High School girls basketball team encountered a few speed bumps on their way to the championship of the Ben Lujan Invitational tournament. In each case, the Elkettes went inside to posts Ashten Martinez and Tonni Aquino to pick up speed. Pojoaque ended each game pulling away to double-digit victories, culminating with a 51-37 defeat of Penasco High School Dec. 22 in the championship game in Ben Lujan Gym.
“Once we get going, someone lights the flash,” Pojoaque Coach Seledon Martinez said. “The girls don’t seem to worry. The one with the least patience is me.”
The Elkettes started the tournament having no problems beating Santa Rosa High School 60-28 Dec. 20 in the opening round. It looked like it might be another easy victory for Pojoaque in the semifinals, where they faced the Dulce High School Lady Hawks. Dulce had defeated Tierra Encantada 72-24 in the opening round.
The Elkettes were leading 13-8 at the end of the first quarter and were leading 15-10 when a three-pointer by Pojoaque point guard Taylor Roybal ignited a 14-0 run that gave Pojoaque at 29-10 lead. The Elkettes had a comfortable 31-14 lead at halftime.
Pojoaque was leading 36-20 when the Lady Hawks started hammering home three-point baskets. Brannon Vigil canned a pair and Jasmine Salazar added another during a 13-4 run by Dulce and all of a sudden the score was 40-33 with Pojoaque hanging on to the lead. After a free throw by the Elkettes Michaela Martinez, Vigil knocked down her third three-pointer of the third quarter to make the score 41-36. Vigil wasn’t done yet. Her runner at the buzzer made the score 42-38 heading into the fourth quarter.
“We relaxed in the third quarter,” Coach Martinez said. “You can’t do that. (Dulce Coach) Stanford (Salazar) is a good coach and he always has good teams.”
Ashten Martinez had been on the bench a good part of the third quarter in foul trouble. She returned to the floor in the fourth quarter and that was the “flash” that Pojoaque needed.
Martinez did not score right away, but with Dulce collapsing on her she was able to pass off to Michaela Martinez and Alicia Sanchez for easy layups. Ashten Martinez then hit a pair of free throws and the Elkettes were off and running. Pojoaque put together a 19-2 run to take control of the game. Pojoaque took a 63-44 victory.
“Once she (Ashten Martinez) came in, we settled down and took off on them (Dulce).” Coach Martinez said.
The Elkettes faced Penasco in the championship game. The Lady Panthers were coming off a thrilling, come-from-behind victory over Santa Fe Indian School in the semifinals. Penasco had defeated Bernalillo 70-53 in the opening round.
Class 2A Penasco had something to prove against the Class 4A Elkettes and in the first quarter they did so. Led by post Carly Gonzales and Alaska Lopez, Penasco took an early 6-0 lead. Pojoaque didn’t score in the first five minutes of the first quarter. Lopez canned a pair of three-pointers from the corner and Gonzales had five points in the paint to give the Panthers an 11-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Pojoaque turned things around in the second quarter behind Ashten Martinez and Aquino. They dominated the inside and scored 12 points. Penasco had trouble putting the ball in the basket and with Martinez and Aquino grabbing rebounds, the Elkettes were able to run their fast break. Michaela Martinez consistently beat the Panthers down the court for layups and had six points. The Elkettes outscored Penasco 22-7 to lead 28-18 at halftime.
“We missed some shots that could have taken away their momentum,” Penasco Coach Gilbert Mascarenas said.
Penasco battled back in the third quarter behind Gonzales and Bianca Contreras. Gonzales had five points and Contreras a pair of three-pointers in an 11-2 run that got the Panthers to within a point of the Elkettes 30-29. Pojoaque had trouble scoring, but a flurry of offense near the end of the third quarter that ended with a three-pointer at the buzzer by Sara Vigil gave the Elkettes a 37-31 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
A pair of free throws by Gonzales made the score 40-35 in favor of the Elkettes when Pojoaque put together the decisive run of the game in the fourth quarter. Penasco left Michaela Martinez alone beyond the three-point arc and she buried a three-pointer. Ashten Martinez, Adrianna Quintana and Aquino scored inside as the Elkettes put together a 9-0 run to take a 49-35 lead. Pojoaque claimed the championship with a 51-37 victory.
“We knew they were going to come back,” Coach Martinez said. We were able to weather the storm and get going again.”
The Elkettes improved to 10-0 and are currently ranked number one in Class 4A in the MaxPreps poll.
Aqino, a fresman, led Pojoaque with 14 points and Ashten Martinez added 13 points for the Elkettes. Michaela Martinez also had 13 points for Pojaque. Gonzales had 15 points for Penasco.
“We’re a team,” Coach Martinez said. “Everybody’s contributing.”
Pojoaque will put its undefeated record to the test in upcoming games. St. Pius X, Portales, Carlsbad and Gallup High Schools are all top teams in Classes 4A and 5A. Pojoaque plays Hope Christian High School Jan. 3 in Albuquerque.
I’m happy with the season, the way it’s going,” Coach Martinez said. “There are some things we still need to work on.”
Pojoaque’s Tonni Aquino closely guards Penasco’s Alaska Lopez in the championship game of the Ben Lujan tournament.