Pojoaque's Ashten Martinez (right) and Española's Kaylee Chavez jump for the ball at the opening tipoff of a District 2-4A game Jan. 22 at Española. Pojoaque defeated Española 56-53 after falling behind 17-3 in the first quarter (photo by Chris Roybal).
Resilient Elkettes Rally To Defeat Española
By George Morse
If there’s one word that could define the Pojoaque Valley High School girls basketball team after their 56-53 victory over Española Valley High School Jan. 22 at Española, it would be resilient.
The definition of resilient is listed as “Able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.”
The Elkettes had every reason to be shell-shocked after the Lady Sundevils launched an aerial assault that included five three-pointers to take a 17-3 lead in the first quarter. Three of those three-pointers belonged to Kaylinn Martinez, who would finish the game with eight long-range missiles.
Española was doing exactly what it wanted to do. Get off to a quick start and rattle their opponent.
Pojoaque began its road to recovery behind Adrianna Quintana, who was able to get to the basket and scored eight of Pojoaque’s next 10 points. Ashten Martinez added a couple of baskets inside and when Taylor Roybal scored on a fast-break layup off a great pass by Michaela Martinez, the Elkettes had come all the way back and tied the score 17-17 by the end of the first quarter.
“We bent, but we didn’t break,” Pojoaque Coach Seledon Martinez said.
Pojoaque would have to withstand another blitz by the Sundevils as Española got off to a smoking start in the second quarter. Kaylinn Martinez sandwiched her fourth and fifth three-pointers around a basket by Jasmine Baca and an old-fashioned, three-point play by Anita DeAguero to give Española a 28-17 lead. The Elkettes answered with a 7-0 run that ended with a three-pointer by Michaela Martinez. Kaylinn Martinez added her sixth three-pointer later in the second quarter and Española led 35-26. Pojoaque’s Taylor Roybal canned a three-pointer and a driving layup by Ashten Martinez made the score 35-31 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Pojoaque started to look for Ashten Martinez at the high post and the move proved effective. She didn’t score, but used her court vision to spot Quintana and Michaela Martinez cutting to the basket for backdoor layups. Michaela Martinez’s layup tied the score at 38-38 at 4:18 of the third quarter.
“Ashten isn’t a selfish player,” Coach Seledon Martinez said. “She wants the best for everybody and has always been that way.”
A corner three by Roybal tied the score again at 43-43 and with 1:47 left in the third quarter a basket by Camille Cordova gave Pojoaque its first lead since they had scored the first two points of the game.
Kaylinn Martinez canned her seventh three-pointer to give Española a 46-45 lead to start the fourth quarter. The Elkettes struck back. A basket by Roybal and a pair of driving layups by Ashten Martinez gave the Elkettes a 51-46 lead. With 2:01 left in the game, Cordova nailed two free throws to give Pojoaque a 54-48 lead.
Swarming on defense in a desperate attempt to get back in the game, Española produced a pair of turnovers. One led to Kaylinn Martinez’s eighth three-pointer. A steal by Miranda Salazar, who fed Chavez for a layup, cut the lead to 54-53 with 41.6 seconds left to play.
With 25.5 seconds left, Quintana went to the free-throw line and coolly nailed a pair that gave Pojoaque a 56-53 lead. Española had plenty of time to try to set up for a game-tying three-pointer, but pass after pass on the perimeter failed to produce an open look and Destiny Valdez’s desperation heave with 1.8 seconds left was doomed to failure from the start. Pojoaque had stolen a key District 2-4A win on the road.
“There was a big crowd,” Coach Seledon Martinez said. “This is a big win for us to start off the district.”
Pojoaque was coming off a stretch where they had lost three of their last four games.
“We needed a break,” Michaela Martinez said. “We talked about what we needed to do.”
Ashten Martinez had 15 points for Pojoaque. Quintana had 13 points for the Elkettes and Roybal had 10 points.
Kaylinn Martinez led all scorers with 26 points. Chavez had 11 points for Española.
Española had played its game, producing over 20 turnovers and 11 three-pointers,. It was not enough to offset Pojoaque dominance inside that led to layups and free throws. The Elkettes were 15-of-21 from the line, while Española sank jus 4-of-9 free throws.
“I don’t see us changing much,” Española Coach Joe Estrada said. “We need to defend the big girl a little better. (Pojoaque) did a good job of getting inside. We had some turnovers at hard times and missed some shots at hard times.”
The two teams will meet again in District 2-4A play. A third meeting in the District 2-4A tournament looks like a real possibility.
“We’re hoping to play them two more times,” Coach Estrada said.
Española's Kaylinn Martinez tries to drive around Pojoaque's Taylor Roybal. Martinez scored 26 points and had eight three-pointers (photo by Chris Roybal).
Española's Jaydyn Padilla tries to stop Pojoaque's Ashten Martinez from scoring. Pojoaque's Taylor Roybal (left) and Alicia Sanchez trap Española's Kaylee Chavez (photo by Chris Roybal). Pojoaque's Michaela Martinez brings the ball up against Española (photo by Chris Roybal). Pojoaque Coach Seledon Martinez confers with point guard Taylor Roybal (photo by Chris Roybal).