Española’s Kaylee Chavez looks to make a move on a Santa Fe defender. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post
Lady Sundevils Lose Rematch With Santa Fe
By George Morse Sports and Outdoors
A disastrous third quarter doomed the Española Valley Lady Sundevils basketball team in their second chance at defeating the Santa Fe High School Lady Demons and former coach Cindy Roybal when the two teams met for the second time this season Dec. 14 at Española.
Trailing 26-24 at halftime, the Sundevils scored just two points in the third quarter, while the Demons scored 12 to take a 38-26 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Despite a frantic attempt to come back in the fourth quarter, poor shooting from the field and the free-throw line kept Española from gaining any ground. The Demons took a 53-41 victory.
“That third quarter killed us,” Española Coach Johnny Abeyta said. “We missed a lot of shots and our free-throw shooting was terrible.”
Santa Fe and Española had met Dec. 1 in the consolation round of the Al Armendariz Tournament in Santa Fe. The Sundevils defeated the Demons 34-32 in overtime. At least for the first half of the rematch in Española, the game had all the makings of another down-to-the-wire nailbiter.
Española’s Kaylinn Martinez dribbles around a screen set by a teammate. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post
Española took a quick 4-0 lead after baskets by Dulce Maldonado and Kaylinn Martinez. The Sundevils led 8-5 after two baskets by Kianna Duran.
Española’s Kianna Duran gets set to shoot against Santa Fe. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post
Santa Fe came back. A basket by Little Martinez and a three-pointer by Taylor Salazar gave the Demons a 10-8 lead. Española’s Miranda Salazar drained a three-pointer to give the Sundevils an 11-10 lead. A basket by Santa Fe’s Adonica Baca-Martinez gave Santa Fe a 12-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.
A free throw by Kaylee Chavez tied the score in the second quarter.
Española’s Kaylee Chavez dribbles against the Demons. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post
Santa Fe’s Salazar nailed back-to-back three-pointers to give the Demons an 18-12 lead. Española answered with a 7-0 run, sandwiching a three-pointer by Destiny Valdez between baskets by Jasmine Baca and Martinez. A pair of free throws by Taylor Salazar gave the Demons a 20-19 lead.
Española’s Jasmine Baca tries to drive past a Santa Fe defender. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post
Chavez put Española ahead 22-20 with a three-pointer and a basket by Martinez gave the Sundevils a 24-20 lead. A pair of free throws by Baca-Martinez and a basket by Kaya Sena tied the score. Española was hit with a technical foul for having six players on the floor. Taylor Salazar nailed two free throws to give Santa Fe a 26-24 lead at halftime.
Española’s Kaylinn Martinez looks for room under the basket. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post
Both teams struggled to score in the early minutes of the third quarter. A basket by Baca-Martinez, where she ended up alone under the basket on an inbounds play, gave Santa Fe a 28-24 lead. Baca-Martinez added a pair of free throws for a six-point Santa Fe lead.
Española’s Jasmine Baca drives in for a layup. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post
Española finally scored with 3:45 left in the third quarter on a driving layup by Martinez. That would be the only score of the third quarter for the Sundevils. Española was 1-for-11 from the field and 0-of-2 from the free-throw line. Santa Fe finished the third quarter with back-to-back three pointers by Baca-Martinez and Taylor Salazar to take a 12-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Taylor Salazar had four three-pointers for the Demons.
“Taylor lit it up,” Coach Roybal said. “That was nice.”
In the fourth quarter, the Sundevils pressed frantically. The tactic forced a lot of turnovers, but Española couldn’t take advantage of them like they could have, still shooting icy cold from the field.
Española also committed a lot of fouls. Taylor Salazar went 5-of-6 from the charity stripe and a basket by Baca-Martinez gave the Demons a 45-28 lead, their biggest of the game.
Española was still fighting and the turnovers kept coming, but the Sundevils still struggled to score. After a technical foul on Santa Fe, the normally reliable Martinez missed a pair of free throws. It was Martinez who had sent the first game between the two teams into overtime with a pair of free throws on a technical foul. On this night, however, the shots just wouldn’t fall for Española.
Española’s Jasmine Baca drives against the Demons. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post
Española managed to cut the Demons’ lead to under 10 points 48-39 after an old-fashioned, three-point play by Miranda Salazar. That was as close as the Sundevils would get, as Española missed four straight free throws. Meanwhile, Taylor Salazar sank six straight free throws and finished the game going 16-of-18 from the charity stripe. Salazar’s last two free throws provided the game’s final points in the Demons’ 53-41 victory.
For the Demons, learning what their coach is trying to teach them was the difference.
“I’ve been trying to get them to listen to me,” Coach Roybal said. “When they do what they’re told, they win.”
Roybal, somewhat ashen-faced and feeling very under-the weather, spent a lot of the game sitting down. She willed herself to coach despite her condition for her return to the gym where she’d spent the last three seasons leading the Sundevils.
“If I hadn’t shown up, there would have been all kinds of rumors about why I missed the game,” she said. “Devils versus Demons, welcome back.”
Española was a dismal 4-of-16 from the free-throw line. The Sundevils were coming off a hard-fought 38-37 overtime victory over Valencia High School Dec. 12 in Los Lunas. Española is 4-5 on the season.
“I’m proud of the girls,” Coach Abeyta said. “They battled. They’re venturing into uncharted territory, not having any experience. Eventually, we’ll start hitting our shots and knowing our roles. Get the discipline to keep running the offense until we make it work. Once we get to where we want to get by district time, we’ll be alright.”