Española Girls Win First Two Rounds In Tournament
By George Morse Sports and Outdoors
The Española Valley High School Lady Sundevils Are Up Two Games In the State Tournament. First the Lady Sundevils defeated Del Norte High School 47-30 in the opening round of the Class 5A state basketball tournament March 4 at Española and then they moved on to easily take Los Alamos March 8.
Española fans grew a little anxious in the first quarter. The quarter was already half-over and the Sundevils still hadn’t put points on the scoreboard. Del Norte led 4-0.
The fans soon had no reason to worry. Alexis Lovato scored on a layup and drew a foul with 3:19 left in the first quarter. She sank the free throw for an old-fashioned, three-point play. Del Norte committed three straight turnovers and Española ran off 11 unanswered points to lead 11-4 at the end of the first quarter.
“We focused on defense,” senior Kaitlyn Romero said. “Our offense wasn’t really flowing. We try to get our offense started with our defense.”
The Sundevils pulled away after that and the Knights never got close again. Española increased its lead to 20-7 in the second quarter and led 26-11 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Romero and Lovato evenly split eight points during an 8-0 run that gave the Sundevils a 34-13 lead. Lovato contributed three steals when the Knights tried to pass the ball into the paint.
“We just changed up the defense and that’s what happened,” Lovato said.
Española led 36-15 going into the fourth quarter when things got a little bit antsy. Española Coach Cindy Roybal had pulled most of her starters off the floor and Del Norte took advantage of the inexperienced reserves, putting together a 14-4 run that made the score 40-29 with almost three minutes left in the game.
“I think I was getting a little bit too comfortable,” Coach Roybal said. “I was like ‘Uh-oh, slow down.’”
Roybal brought the starters back in and Española finished the game with a 7-1 run to take a 47-30 victory.
The victory set up a showdown against Los Alamos High School March 8 in the Class 5A quarterfinals at the Pit in Albuquerque. Los Alamos and Española had already met three times during the regular season with the Sundevils winning all three. Española had to go for a grand slam against the Lady Hilltoppers to move on and they pulled it off in style.
Final score of the game against Los Alamos was 79-52. More on this game in a follow up article.
The Lady Sundevils now move on to the Semi Finals where they will face Gallup at 1:15 Thursday, March 10 in The Pit.