Northern Rio Grande Championship Girls Basketball

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Mora Rangerettes Wins NRG Championship
Valley Daily Post

McCurdy’s Marissa Sandoval drives to the basket.Photo by George Morse\

The Mora High School Rangerettes had something to prove at the girls Northern Rio Grande tournament. Ranked just seventh coming into the tournament with a modest 3-9 record, the Rangerettes rallied for three victories at the tournament. The icing on the cake was a decisive 47-24 victory over future District 5-2A rival and previously undefeated Penasco High School Jan. 7 in the tournament’s championship game at Pojoaque Valley High School.
Penasco, coming off a thrilling come-from-behind 68-59 win over Pecos High School Jan. 6 in the semifinals, never got going against Mora. The Rangerettes used physical play and pounded the ball inside to post Maria Garcia, who led all scorers with 24 points. The first half was tightly contested and Mora led just 26-18 at halftime. The third quarter was disastrous for the Lady Panthers, who put up just one measly point while the Rangerettes were scoring 14. Penasco managed only five points in the fourth quarter and the Rangerettes cruised to a lop-sided victory.
On their way to the championship, Mora knocked off future District 5-2A rival Escalante High School, 42-40, in the opening round and beat Dulce High School 55-45 in the semifinals.
In the win over Dulce, Mora took a big lead at halftime, 21-8, only to go cold for most of the third quarter. Dulce battled back to within five points before the Rangerettes rallied in the final minute of the third quarter. Mora led 31-20 heading into the fourth quarter. The Lady Hawks fought back furiously in the fourth quarter and got to within three points of the Rangerettes. Mora weathered the storm and held on. After being outscored 25-17 by Dulce, Mora scored the last seven points of the game to take a 10-point victory.
Dulce came back the following night and beat Pecos High School 47-40 Jan. 7 to take third place in the tournament. Pecos was coming off a tough loss to Penasco in the semifinals. The Lady Panthers were ahead for most of the first three quarters, leading by as many as 14 points in the first half and ahead 43-30 in the third quarter. Penasco started to bomb away and hit four, three-pointers in the third quarter, three of them by Adriana Tafoya. By the end of the third quarter, Pecos was clinging to a 50-42 lead. The shell-shocked Lady Panthers never recovered. Penasco poured it on in the fourth quarter, outscoring Pecos 26-9 to win going away.
The Lady Hawks may have caught the Lady Panthers still recovering from the aerial assault. Pecos put just three points in the scorebook in the first quarter and Dulce grabbed an 8-3 lead. The Hawks maintained the lead throughout the second quarter and led 19-11 after a three-pointer by Brannon Vigil. Dulce Coach Wilbert Callado likes to play everyone on his roster and the Lady Hawks have what amounts to a 13-player rotation. Ten players put points in the scorebook for Dulce.
“We try to get everyone in the game,” Coach Callado said. “That way they’re all capable of stepping up. I believe in the girls. We have a young team.” The Lady Hawks led at halftime 23-15 and stayed ahead throughout the third quarter as Pecos struggled to score and missed shot after shot. Julisa Christie scored six of Dulce’s 11 points in the third quarter and the Lady Hawks still led by eight points 34-26 going into the fourth quarter.
A basket by Tunte Vigil gave Dulce its biggest lead of the game, 36-26, to start the fourth quarter. Pecos cut the lead down to three points, 38-35, after a basket by Megan Armijo. That was as close as the Lady Panthers would get. Dulce closed out the game going 4-for-4 from the free throw line to push their lead back up to 10 points, 47-37. Cassie Muller’s three-pointer at the buzzer was too little, too late for Pecos.
Dulce began the tournament with a key victory over McCurdy Charter School, 58-56, in the opening round. Both schools will face off in District 2-3A and both appear to be held and shoulders ahead of the other two teams-Monte del Sol Charter School and Santa Fe Prep School-in the district.
It was a seesaw battle throughout the game. Dulce jumped out in front 11-6 in the first quarter only to have McCurdy battle back. An old-fashioned, three-point play by Alyssa Edmonds tied the score at 12-12 and a basket by Karla Santos gave McCurdy a 14-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. Dulce came back in the second quarter and led 27-24 at halftime. The Lady Bobcats battled back and took a 36-33 lead in the third quarter after a pair of free throws by Santos. Dulce fought back and a three-pointer by Caitlin Duncan gave the Lady Hawks a 38-36 lead. Two baskets by eighth-grader DaShauntee Gonzales finished off a 9-0 run that gave the Lady Hawks a 42-39 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
It was the Lady Bobcats’ turn to battle back and two free throws by Devyn Cordova put McCurdy back in front. It was back-and-forth from there. With 1:15 left in the game, a free throw by McCurdy’s Angie Arroyo tied the score. Six seconds later, Edmonds gave McCurdy the lead with another free throw.
Dulce went in front on two free throws by Britteny Vicenti. Another free throw by Vicenti made the score 56-54 in favor of the Lady Hawks. Two free throws by Santos tied the score 56-56 with 15.4 seconds left in the game. Vicenti was back at the line with 5.2 seconds left to play and she nailed both free throws for a 58-56 lead in favor of Dulce. McCurdy couldn’t come up with the equalizer and the Lady Hawks prevailed.
Santos had a spectacular game and led all scorers with 25 points. Gonzales and icenti each scored 14 points to lead the Hawks. McCurdy would come back and beat Escalante High School 46-34 Jan. 6 in the consolation round. It was a tough tournament for Escalante, who were the defending Northern Rio Grande champions. The Lady Lobos struggled to put points on the board. In a 42-40 loss to Mora in the opening round, Escalante scored just 23 points in the first three quarters and trailed 35-23 heading into the fourth quarter. Escalante tried to rally in the fourth quarter and outscored Mora 17-7, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
Against McCurdy, the Lady Lobos managed only 19 points in the first three quarters. McCurdy took control of the game in the second quarter, scoring 22 points to lead 30-11 at halftime. The Lady Bobcats led 36-19 at the end of the third quarter and once again a fourth-quarter rally by the Lady Lobos came up short.Escalante salvaged a win in the seventh-place game, taking out their frustration with a 61-23 blowout over Questa High School.
McCurdy and Mesa Vista High School played Jan. 7 in the consolation championship. The Lady Trojans had suffered a tough 60-48 overtime loss to Pecos in the opening round.  Poor free-throw shooting hurt Mesa Vista, which made just 18-of-38 attempts. The score was tied 47-47 at the end of regulation. Pecos outscored Mesa Vista 13-1 in the four-minute overtime period. Maryssa Martin had 22 points for the Lady Trojans.
Mesa Vista advanced to the consolation championship by forfeit when Questa was unable to make the trip down to Pojoaque over the icy roads, the result of an overnight snowstorm. Against the Lady Bobcats, the Lady Trojans jumped in front 6-1 in the first quarter after a rare four-point play by Aubrianna Griego. Mesa Vista led 13-10 at the end of the first quarter.
The Lady Trojans were leading 18-14 in the second quarter when McCurdy put together a 7-0 run, going 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. The Lady Bobcats led 23-20 at halftime.
McCurdy extended its lead to 29-20 after two breakaway layups by Marissa Sandoval and another by Serena Barela. After that, the Lady Bobcats fell apart and seemed at a loss to know what to do. McCurdy failed to defend the perimeter. Griego and Santana Marquez nailed three-pointers during a 10-0 run by Mesa Vista. The Bobcats were settling for low-percentage shots that gave the Lady Trojans plenty of opportunities to score. The Lady Trojans led 34-31 heading into the fourth quarter.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Martin and Griego gave Mesa Vista a 47-38 lead in the fourth quarter after McCurdy had gotten to within a point of the Lady Trojans. A pair of free throws by Marquez finished off a 54-45 victory for Mesa Vista. Marquez finished with 17 points and Griego had 15 for Mesa Vista.
Sadly, Mesa Vista lost senior Azalea (Azzy) Griego for the season. to a knee injury prior to the Northern Rio Grande tournament. Griego also missed most of her sophomore season to a knee injury.“We miss her leadership on the floor,” Mesa Vista Coach Robert Howard said. “It hurts not to have her.” The team is adjusting to the loss of their leader.
“They’re learning a lot and they’re willing to learn,” Coach Howard said. “This is the best group of players to stick to a game plan.”