The Pojoaque Valley High School girls basketball team won its first district championship since 2009. The Elkettes defeated Los Alamos High School 55-41 in the District 2-4A tournament championship game March 2 at Pojoaque.
By George Morse
Pojoaque Valley High School has a rich history when it comes to girls basketball. Back when it was known as just Pojoaque High School, the Elkettes had a run in the late 1990’s where they appeared in three straight state championship games. That run culminated with an undefeated 28-0 season and the 1998 Class 3A state championship.
In 2008 and 2009, Pojoaque won back-to-back Class 3A state championships, including another undefeated 31-0 season in 2009.
Since those back-to-back state championships, the results have not been quite so memorable. There have been no more state or district championships, as well as a number of losing seasons. When Coach Seledon Martinez took over, Pojoaque was coming off a 7-20 season in 2015. He started a rebuilding process, starting with playing freshmen, including point guard Taylor Roybal, along with Adrianna Quintana and Camille Cordova. A year later, Ashten Martinez, Michaela Martinez and Alicia Sanchez joined the team.
The process was slow and Coach Martinez’s first two seasons were losing ones. Last season, Pojoaque turned the corner and finished 23-6 on the season. The Elkettes made a run to the Class 4A state semifinals.
This season Pojoaque was even better. The Elkettes were 23-4. More importantly, they won their first district championship since 2010, defeating Los Alamos High School 55-41 in the District 2-4A tournament championship game March 2 at Pojoaque.
“This feels really great,” junior Michaela Martinez said. “We’ve worked so hard for this and made it come true.”
The Elkettes success has been built around team play. Pojoaque does not have a big scorer who puts up 20-points-per-game. What they do have is five players capable of scoring in double-digits in any given game. That was the case against Los Alamos. Michaela Martinez scorec19 points. Roybal scored 15 points and Ashten Martinez scored 12 points in Pojoaque’s balanced attack.
Pojoaque started the game strong with a 10-0 run, including three-pointers by Michaela Martinez and Roybal. Los Alamos cameback and scored the next six points. Ashten Martinez scored the final five points of the first quarter, including an old-fashioned, three-point play that made the score 15-6 in favor of Pojoaque.
Los Alamos cut the lead to 17-12 when Roybal started to make things happen. She sank a pullup jumper that ignited an 11-2 run by the Elkettes. Pojoaque led 28-16 at halftime. Roybal then hit deep corner three-pointer in the third quarter that gave the Elkettes a 31-18 lead.
“I just wanted to create stuff,” Roybal said. “Keep the momentum going and the team going. Keep pushing, keep scoring.”
Los Alamos did itself no favors from the free-throw line, sinking just 3-of-19 in the first half. The Hilltoppers managed to cut Pojoaque’s lead to 33-26 in the third quarter. Michaela Martinez pushed the lead back up to double digits with a three-pointer. Pojoaque led 41-30 going into the fourth quarter.
After Los Alamos sliced the lead to 41-32, Ashten Martinez drove to the basket for a layup and drew a foul. Her old-fashioned, thrre-point play ignited 7-0 run by the Elkettes. Michela Martinez score on afast beak and Quintana sank two free throws to give Pojoaque a 48-32 lead. From there, the Elkettes took care of the ball and coasted to victory.
Pojoaque received the fourth seed in the Class 4A state tournament field of 16 teams. The Elkettes will host an opening-round game of the tournament Friday at Ben Lujan Gym. Their opponent will be a familiar face.
Pojoaque will play District 2-4A rival Española Valley High School. During the regular season, the two teams played each other twice. Pojoaque took close, hard-fought victories both times. The Elkettes defeated the Lady Sundevils 56-53 at Española and 53-52 in overtime at Pojoaque. There will be no mysteries between the two teams the third time around and it promises to be another close game.
Pojoaque's Taylor Roybal shoots a pullup jumper against Los Alamos. Roybal scored 15 points. Pojoaque's Michaela Martinez battles two Los Alamos players in the Elkettes' 55-41 victory. Martinez scored 19 points. Pojoaque's Ashten Martinez scores two of her 12 points against Los Alamos.