Lady Sundevils Lose In Quarterfinals To Lady Bobcats

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Española’s Kaylee Chavez dishes the ball off against Bloomfield. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Lady Sundevils Lose In Quarterfinals To Lady Bobcats

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

Valley Daily Post 2018 State Tournament Coverage is brought to you in partnership with KDCE Radio 

The Española Valley High School Lady Sundevils were hanging in there against the Bloomfield High School Lady Bobcats in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A girls basketball tournament March 6 at the Pit in   Albuquerque. Trailing 10-9 at the end of the first quarter, Española bombed away from the perimeter as they had done all season and hit three three-pointers to take an 18-12 lead. Kaylinn Martinez, Kaylee Chavez and Destiny Valdez nailed treys for the Sundevils, who were decided underdogs against the second-seeded Bobcats.

“It was a fun ride in the first half,” Martinez said.

Bloomfield came back to take a 20-18 lead at halftime. After Bloomfield took a 22-18 lead to start the third quarter, another three-pointer by Valdez made the score 22-21 in favor of the Bobcats, the Sundevils started to give up ground and started to fall a step behind Bloomfield. In the fourth quarter, the Bobcats tore the Sundevils apart and pulled away to a 57-33 victory over Española.

“That team is amazing,” Martinez said after the game. “They have such good chemistry and were so much taller. We got tired in the second half and they just kept running and running.”

The Bobcats put together a 8-0 run in the third quarter to take a 30-21 lead before an old-fashioned, three-point play by Kristen Martinez stopped the bleeding for Española. Bloomfield’s Alyssa Quintana had back-to-back baskets to give the Bobcats a 34-24 lead. With time running out in the third quarter, Española’s Meranda Salazar launched a long three-pointer that hit nothing but net to make the score 34-27 heading into the fourth quarter.

Española’s Meranda Salazar brings the ball up against Bloomfield. Salazar hit a buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter, but it wasn’t enough as Bloomfield won 57-33 in the Class 5A quarterfinals March 6 at the Pit. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

All season long the Sundevils have made a habit of sinking long shots that beat the buzzer. Could Salazar’s bomb give Española some momentum heading into the fourth quarter?

Alas, the Bobcats never slowed down and created turnover after turnover that led to layup after layup by Bloomfield. The Bobcats scored 17 unanswered points to take a 51-27 lead and effectively put the game out of reach for the Sundevils.

“We’ve been like that all year,’ Bloomfield Coach Tom Adair said. “We don’t play all that well in the first half, but then in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter, the girls really get going.”

Quintana led all scorers with 18 points.

“We have all played together for so long and we know each other so well,” Quintana said. “When we get running, we all know where each other is going to be.”

Martinez and Chavez led Española with seven points apiece. The Sundevils had just four turnovers in the first half, but gave the ball away 17 times in the second half.

Española loses just two seniors (Kayla DeVargas, Samantha Gasca), who both managed to put a points in the scorebook in their final game. The Sundevils will return all of their starters next season.

“Next year, we’ll come back bigger and stronger,” Kaylinn Martinez said.