Alliyah Coris (10) drives downcourt in game against 4A Santa Fe Indian School. Photo by George Morse with the Valley Daily Post
McCurdy Girls Win Over Santa Fe Indian School
By George Morse Sports and Outdoors
The Class 2A McCurdy Charter School Lady Bobcats were the smallest school competing in the girls portion of the Ben Lujan Tournament hosted by Pojoaque Valley High School. Not only that, McCurdy does not have a player taller than 5 feet, 7 inches. It was their big hearts that carried them to a 36-34 upset of the Class 4A Santa Fe Indian School Lady Braves Dec. 17 in the opening round of the tournament.
“We just play with our hearts,” McCurdy junior guard Karla Santos said.
Saddled with three fouls in the first half, Santos had watched helplessly from the bench as her team fell behind 21-10 in the second quarter. McCurdy managed to cut the Braves’ lead to single digits after a basket by Azaira Arroyo made the score 21-12 at halftime.
Returning to action in the third quarter, Santos helped the Bobcats stay with the Braves. McCurdy held Indian School to just three points while scoring six to make the score 24-18 going into the fourth quarter.
The Braves took a 27-20 lead after a three-pointer by Marlena Yazzie. Santos keyed a run by the Bobcats that would tie the score. She had a basket and a pair of free throws to make the score 27-24. After grabbing a rebound, Santos heaved a long pass downcourt to Marissa Sandoval, who scored on a fast-break layup that cut the Braves lead to a point. Santos finished off the 7-0 McCurdy run with a free throw that tied the score 27-27 with 4:08 left in the game.
Indian School took a 30-27 lead. The Bobcats tied the score after a basket by Sandoval and a free throw by Santos. The Braves took a 32-30 lead. With 1:58 left in the game, a steal and layup by Santos tied the score. Indian School’s Hunter Garcia gave the Braves a 34-32 lead. A steal and layup by Sandoval tied the score 34-34 with 47 seconds left to play in the game.
Another turnover by the Braves gave the Bobcats their opportunity to win the game. With the seconds ticking off the clock, Santos dribbled the ball around the perimeter. With the Braves following her every move, she swung the ball back to the weak side, where her older sister, senior Mariana Santos, was open on the left wing. The senior Santos launched a 12-foot jumper that fell through the basket with four seconds left to give McCurdy the victory.
“I saw her Mariana) open,” Karla Santos said. “She just made it.”
It was Mariana Santos’ only basket of the game. She had scored just one free throw until that point.
“Being a smaller school, to show up here and win feels pretty good,” Mariana Santos said.
McCurdy Coach Ron Sanchez didn’t take any credit for the win.
“I didn’t do anything,” Coach Sanchez said. “The girls did it. They’re the ones who play the game.”
McCurdy nearly slew another giant in the semifinals against Class 4A St. Michael’s High School Dec. 18 in the tournament semifinals. Behind 13 first half points by Karla Santos, the Bobcats were running the bigger Lady Horsemen ragged in the first half. McCurdy led 24-18 at halftime after taking a 14-11 lead in the first quarter.
However, Santos picked up three fouls in the first half and was whistled for her fourth early in the third quarter. McCurdy managed to stay in front behind Mariana Santos (4 points) and Azaira Arroyo (3 points), to stay in front 31-27 going into the fourth quarter.
The Horsemen finally exploited McCurdy’s lack of size and started feeding the ball inside to 6-foot post Danielle Vigil, who scored seven unanswered points to give the Horsemen a 34-31 lead.
The Bobcats struggled to score and St. Michael’s had an 11-0 run to take a 38-31 lead. A free throw by McCurdy’s Katelyn Tafoya with3:20 left in the game ended the Bobcats scoring drought. St. Michael’s Jocelyn Fernandez went 5-of-6 from the free throw line to keep the Bobcats at bay and McCurdy fell 44-37. It was the Bobcats first loss of the season after five victories.
The magic ran out for the Bobcats in the third-place game against Class 4A Wingate High School. The Lady Bears led 34-25 at halftime and ran away from McCurdy in the second half for a 62-42 victory. McCurdy is now 5-2 on the season. The Bobcats don’t return to the court until next year when they participate in the Northern Rio Grande Tournament, which will be held Jan. 7-Jan. 9 at Pojoaque Valley High School.