Lady Sundevils Fall Three Points Short At Capital City Tourney


Espanola’s Jasmine Baca waits for Santa Fe’s Maci Cordova to fly by before putting up her shot. Espanola defeated Santa Fe 42-36 in the semifinals of the Capital City tournament Dec. 6 in Santa Fe to advance to the championship game.


By George Morse


The Espanola Valley High School girls basketball team rallied in the fourth quarter and had made it a one possession game with the clock running out against Sue Cleveland High School in the championship game of the Capital City Invitational Tournament Dec. 7 in Santa Fe. Espanola had the ball and took the last shot. An off-balance, running three-pointer missed and Cleveland hung on for a 36-33 victory.

‘We were down by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter,” Espanola Coach Joe Estrada said. “We picked up the full-court pressure. We had a steal and Destiny Valdez hit a 25-foot three-pointer. We had another turnover and Miranda Salazar hit a three-pointer. We had a couple more steals but couldn’t get the ball to go in.”

After a solid 62-46 win Dec. 5 over Portales High School in the opening round of the tournament, the Lady Sundevils took on host Santa Fe High School Dec. 6 in the semifinals. Former rivals when the Demonettes were members of District 2-4A, the two teams battled back-and-forth in a game where missed free throws played a key role. Santa Fe was a paltry 9-of-30 from the free-throw line and the Sundevils not a lot better at 16-of-31 from the line. 

Espanola got off to a good start. Anita DeAguero beganthe scoring for the Lady Sundevils with an old-fashioned, three-point play with a layup and a free throw. Kiana Duran followed with another three-point play to give Espanola a 6-2 lead. A steal and layup by Valdez upped the lead to 10-4 for the Sundevils. 

Santa Fe came back to tie the score 10-10 despite going 0-of-7 from the free-throw line. A three-pointer by Rhianna Padilla gave Espanola the lead.  The Sundevils were ahead 13-12 at the end of the first quarter.

Santa Fe came back to take its only lead of the game 16-15 in the second quarer. Salazar hit a three-pointer to put Espanola back in front. A three-pointer by DeAguero gave the Sundevils a 22-18 lead. Espanola led 22-20 at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Sundevils and the Demonettes each scored eight points. Espanola led 30-28 heading into the fourth quarter.

A couple of freshmen gave Espanola a lift in the fourth quarter. Kaitlyn Thomas hit a  pair of free throw. Padilla drained a three-pointer and followed with two more free throws to give Espanola a 38-30 lead. Santa Fe cut the lead to 39-36, but missed five free throws. Espanola went 3-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final minute to secure the 42-36 victory. The Sundevils advanced to the championship gme against Cleveland.

After the loss to Cleveland Espanola is 2-2 on the season. The Sundevils will play Thursday in the opening round of the Rio Rancho tournament at Rio Rancho High School against Clovis High School.