By George Morse
The third time proved to be the charm for the Santa Fe High School Lady Demons when they faced Espanola Valley High School for the third time this season Jan. 9 at Espanola. Espanola had won the first two times the teams played each other. The Demons eked out a 39-38 win, taking advantage of some shaky free-throw shooting by the Lady Sundevils.
“We should have won that game,” Espanola Coach Joe Estrada said. ”We had our chances. How many free throws did we miss?”
Overall, Espanola was 9-of-19 from the free-throw line. It was in the fourth quarter that the Sundevils were the shakiest shooting free throws. Espanola made just 1-of-6 from the line, including the front end of two one-and-one opportunities. That allowed Santa Fe to come back and tie the game 35-35 at the end of regulation.
In the overtime period, Espanola’s Jasmine Baca did sink two free throws to give the Sundevils a 37-35 lead with 1:51 left in overtime. Espanola missed its next two free throws. Santa Fe’s Maci Cordova tied the game 37-37 with a drive down the lane. Baca made one of her next two free throws with 46.9 seconds left for a 38-37 Espanola lead.. Santa Fe’s Zuriel Vigil put the Demons up by one 39-38 with a turnaround jumper from the top of the key.
The door was open for the Sundevils when Cordova missed the front end of a one-and-one with 18 seconds left, but the Sundevils were called for traveling. They did manage to get the ball back on a Santa Fe turnover. Anita DeAguero missed a runner and a putback by Jayden Padilla was partially blocked. Time expired as the two teams fought for the rebound beneath the basket. Santa Fe held on for the win.
Espanola had gotten off to a slow start at the beginning of the game, falling behind 9-0 before coming back to make the score 9-8 at the end of the first quarter. A three-pointer by DeAguero gave Espanola an 11-9 lead. A basket by Baca and a free throw by Rhianna Padilla gave the Sundevils a 14-9 lead.
Santa Fe came back with a 6-0 run to lead 15-14 with time running out in the first half. A basket by Baca gave the Sundevils a 16-15 lead at halftime. In the third quarter, Santa Fe was leading 26-24 when Miranda Salazar canned a three-pointer to give Espanola a 27-26 lead. The Demons turned the ball over on the ensuing inbounds play and Rhianna Padilla buried a three-pointer to give the Sundevils a 30-26 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Espanola led 34-29 after two baskets by Kiana Duran. That’s when the free throws stopped falling for the Sundevils. Espanola missed the front end of two one-and-one opportunities. After a free throw by Baca, Santa Fe came back to make the score 35-33 in favor of Espanola.
Salazar missed two free throws with 13 seconds left that could have iced the game for Espanola. That gave Santa Fe’s Alexis Espinosa time to sink a runner that tied the score 35-35, sending the game into overtime.
With the loss, Espanola falls to 8-6 on the season. The Sundevils will host Kirtland Central High School, ranked number one in the state in Class 4A Saturday in Espanola.
Espanola Boy’s Basketball
The Espanola boys basketball team lost to Gallup 70-64 Jan. 9 in Gallup.
The Sundevils had beaten Belen High School 70-59 Jan. 7 at Espanola. In that game, Espanola was able to beat the Eagles with deadly free-throw shooting. The Sundevils sank 33-of-39 free throws. Espanola was 12-of-15 from the line in the fourth quarter, including 4-of-4 on back-to-back technical fouls on Belen.
Espanola is 9-6 on the season. The Sundevils host Grants High School Jan. 14 in Espanola.