The Pecos High School Lady Panthers defeated Penasco High School 57-54 to win the Northern Rio Grande basketball tournament Jan. 5 at Pojoaque Valley High School.
By George Morse
The Pecos High School Lady Panthers came up with some key baskets just when they needed them and knocked off defending champion Penasco High 57-54 in the championship game of the Northern Rio Grande basketball tournament Jan. 5 at Pojoaque Valley High School. Pecos took the lead for good with less than a minute left in the game on a big three-pointer by Brittney Martinez that broke a 51-51 tie.
Penasco, also known as the Lady Panthers, led 17-14 after the first quarter behind 11 points from post Carly Gonzales. Gonzales picked up her third personal foul with 1:18 left in the first quarter and sat out the entire second quarter. Pecos used her absence to come back and take a 27-22 lead at halftime.
“Once Carly got in foul trouble, we became one dimensional,” Penasco Coach Gilbert Mascarenas said. “We forced up shots and missed her rebounding. Pecos was getting two-and-three shots.”
Gonzales returned in the third quarter and helped Penasco come back to tie the score. Gonzales went 5-of-6 from the free-throw line and a basket by Adrianna Tafoya tied the score at 29 points apiece. Penasco took a 36-32 lead after a three-pointer by Tafoya.
Pecos came back behind Alexis Gonzales and Trinity Herrera. A pair of free throws by Gonzales tied the score 36-36 with 3:05 left in the third quarter and Herrera later nailed a three-pointer for a 42-37 lead by Pecos. Pecos led 42-39 going into the fourth quarter.
Tafoya tied the score at 44-44 with a three-pointer. Penasco took a 51-47 lead after a basket by Alaska Lopez. Pecos rallied and Alexis Gonzales, who had missed three previous free throws, nailed her next two to tie the score 51-51 with 1:22 left in the game.
With 35 seconds left in the game, Martinez drilled her big three-pointer from the elbow. She skipped into the air and pumped her arms after the shot went through the net. Pecos led 54-51.
“My teammates trusted me,” Martinez said. “We all have confidence in each other.”
Penasco managed to cut the lead down to two points 55-53 with 21 seconds left to play. Seconds later, Alexis Gonzales nailed down the victory, canning two free throws that made the score 57-53 and time ran out on Penasco.
“This is so special,” Pecos Coach Ron Drake said. “This is a special group. For five years, they’ve worked so hard. Just a great bunch of kids.”
Carly Gonzales led all scorers with 21 points and Tafoya scored 14 points for Penasco. Trinity Herrera and Martinez each scored 13 points for Pecos and Alexis Gonzales added 10 points.
Pecos had defeated Mesa Vista 49-28 in the opening round and Mora High School 47-31 in the semifinals to get to the championship game. Penasco defeated Escalante High School 62-51 in the opening round and beat Dulce High School 74-57 in the semifinals.
Pecos and Penasco will meet up again for another battle of the Panthers Jan. 22 when Penasco hosts Pecos.
The PenascoHigh School Lady Panthers lost to Pecos High School 57-54 in the championship game of the Northern Rio Grande basketball tournament.
Penasco's Carly Gonzales drives to the basket against Pecos High School.
Penasco's Carly Gonzales dishes off to teammate Alaska Lopez against the Pecos Lady Panthers.