Lady Sundevils Top Taos Tigers
By George Morse Sports and Outdoors
It took Espanola Valley High School awhile to warm up. When they did, the Lady Sundevils shut down the Taos High School Lady Tigers. Finishing the game with a 16-0 run, Espanola won going away 52-25 in the season opener Tuesday at Espanola.
“I liked that we really ran the ball,” Espanola Coach Cindy Roybal said. “Taos tried to slow us down, but you can’t slow down a thoroughbred.”
The Sundevils showed some opening-game jitters early in the first quarter, missing their first four shots before Celina Velasquez scored the game’s first basket. Leah DeAguero followed with a three-pointer to give Espanola a 5-0 lead. The first quarter ended with the Sundevils holding a modest 6-3 lead.
Taos scored to draw within a point of the Sundevils. Another DeAguero three-pointer kicked off a 7-0 spurt by the Sundevils. After Taos scored, DeAguero’s third three-pointer and a pair of free throws by Kaitlyn Romero pushed Espanola’s lead to 18-9. A three-pointer by Kaylinn Martinez gave Espanola their biggest lead of the first half 23-12 and the Sundevils led 23-15 at halftime.
Romero worked the baseline to start the second half, scoring on a short jumper and a layup. The Sundevils began to take control of the game as Taos struggled to score against Espanola’s matchup zone that kept the ball from going into Midnight Lujan, the Tigers’ 6-foot post.
“They were trying to isolate Midnight,” Coach Roybal said. “We had to help on her with a wing, but then recover quickly. They did exactly what I told them to do – double down on Midnight.”
A three-pointer by Kaylee Chavez gave the Sundevils a 36-21 lead and the Sundevils led 36-22 going into the fourth quarter.
Taos tried to recover and forced the ball into Lujan, who had a basket and a free throw to make the score 38-25 with six minutes left to play. Espanola’s defense clamped down and shut the Tigers out for the rest of the game. The Sundevils finished the game scoring the final 16 points, including a long three-pointer by DeAguero just before the buzzer that finished off a dominating victory by the Sundevils.
DeAguero finished with 17 points, including five three-pointers. Romero had 11 points and Kaylinn Martinez had 10 points. The Sundevils had seven three-pointers , while Taos had none. Espanola held Lujan to just seven points.
Roybal is looking to fill the void left by the loss of last year’s leading scorer and rebounder, Alexis Lovato. Lovato suffered a knee injury this summer and will likely miss all of this season. Joselinn Rascon, a starter last season, and Annalynn Martinez are working inside at the post. Romero, primarily a guard, moves inside and out to take advantage of her height in the paint.
“I was down for the longest time once Lexi (Lovato) went down,” Coach Roybal said. “Finally, I told myself ‘You know what, you have a job to do. Let’s see if you really can coach.’”
The Sundevils will be participating in the Al Armendariz Classic Tournament hosted by Capital High School in Santa Fe. They face Roswell Goddard High School Thursday in the opening round.