Lady Sundevils Basketball

Lady Sundevils Take Tournament Championship

 Española’s Alexis Lovato gets fouled going to the basket against St. Michael’s. Photo by George Morse/

Valley Daily Post
The Española  Valley High School Lady Sundevils had no problems putting away the St. Michael’s High School Lady Horsemen in the championship game of the Lady Horsemen Invitational basketball tournament Dec. 30 in Santa Fe.
With post Alexis Lovato returning to form and controlling the paint, the Lady Sundevils launched bomb after three-point bomb over the sagging defense of the Lady Horsemen from the perimeter. Española  led 16-6 after the first quarter and 29-12 at halftime.
Española’s lead grew to as many as 32 points in the second half before Coach Cindy Roybal emptied her bench and the Lady Sundevils cruised to a 59-36 victory.
“They’re understanding that when they’re double-and-triple teaming Lexi (Lovato), you gotta look for the open man,” Coach Roybal said. “They’re letting the ‘Three’ come to them instead of just firing it up. Then, you get ‘The Beast’ (Lovato) back.” Lovato scored seven points, including an old-fashioned, three-point play, in the first quarter. In the second quarter Kaylee Chavez, Leah DeAguero and Alycia Archibeque buried back-to-back three-pointers and the lead ballooned to 19 points, 25-6.
In the third quarter, the Sundevils blew the game wide open, putting together a 16-4 run that began and ended with a three-pointer from DeAguero. In between, she had a sweet behind-the-back assist to teammate Gaby Ortiz for a fast-break layup. In the fourth quarter, back-to-back baskets by Lovato helped the Sundevils open up a 53-21 lead, which was their biggest of the game. While the Lady Sundevils were pouring in the points, Española’s two-three matchup zone defense was shutting down the St. Michael’s offense. “Our defense was unbelievable,” Coach Roybal said. “Our defense stifled them. They were talking. They were communicating. They knew their assignments and they ran it perfect.”
Lovato scored 15 points and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. DeAguero led Española  with 16 points.
“Definitely, we feed off each other,” DeAguero said. “When they fall back on Alexis, that opens it up for all of the guards. We’re just not depending on one player.”
The Sundevils had to depend on each other without Lovato in their 52-40 victory over local rival Pojoaque Valley High School Dec. 29 in the tournament’s semifinals. Lovato picked up two fouls in the first quarter and sat on the bench for most of the second quarter.
The Elkettes were leading 11-9 in the second quarter after a basket by Ashten Martinez and a free throw by Felyse Cordova. The Sundevils came back after a three-pointer by Chavez and were leading 15-10 when Lovato went to the bench. Kaylinn Martinez promptly drained a three-pointer for Española  and the Lady Sundevils to go with a spread offense that moved the ball around the perimeter looking for open shots or lanes to the basket. Española  put together a 20-5 run in the second quarter by draining shots from the perimeter or driving to the basket.
“They (Española ) just took off on us and we didn’t answer,” Pojoaque Coach Seledon Martinez said.
A three-pointer by Ortiz with less than 10 seconds left in the first half gave the Sundevils a 29-16 lead at halftime.
“Once one of us goes down, we keep telling each other we have to pick it up,” Chavez said.
DeAguero scored eight straight points in the third quarter, burying back-to-back three-pointers and converting a layup after a seal by Chavez. A basket by Annalynn Martinez gave Española  a 39-22 lead. The Sundevils led 41-26 at the end of the third quarter.
Española  inexplicably went cold in the fourth quarter, missing easy shots from point-blank range. Even the normally reliable Lovato missed two free throws. Pojoaque used the cold spell and warmed up behind Camille Cordova and Adrianna Quintana, who combined for 11 points. A three-pointer from the corner by Quintana made the score 43-37 with 1:40 left in the game.
A pair of free throws by DeAguero helped the Lady Sundevils regain control and a four-point play by Ortiz after she sank a three-pointer from the wing while being fouled put Española ahead 50-37 with time running out. Española  went on to a 52-40 victory.
“I’m disappointed,” Coach Roybal said, despite the victory. “We thought we could just go through the motions and we could win. You gotta show up.”
Chavez led Española  with 15 points, while DeAguero added 14 points. Ortiz kicked in with 10 points and their combined scoring made up for the lack of production from Lovato, who scored just four points, all in the first half.
Lovato had been in “Beast” mode in the Lady Sundevils’ 67-45 win over Rocklin High School from California Dec. 28 in the opening round of the tournament. She scored 26 points and helped Española  take a 24-10 lead in the second quarter. Española  never looked back after that and led 37-22 at halftime. Chavez added 16 points for the Lady Sundevils.
Española  improved to 10-4 on the season. The Lady Sundevils travel to Farmington High School Friday to take on the Lady Scorpions.

Española’s Leah DeAguero drives to the basket against Pojoaque. Photo by George Morse/