Penasco Battles To Title Game, Falls To Elkettes

by Editor / Dec 26, 2018 / 0 comments
The Peñasco Lady Panthers took second place at the Ben Lujan  basketball tournament at Pojoaque Valley High School. Peñasco lost to Pojoaque Valley 51-37 in the championship game Dec. 22 at Pojoaque. Team members are: Coach Gilbert Macarenas ( back, left), Alaska Lopez, Ariana MacAuley, Carly Gonzales, Jennifer Aguilar, Adriana Tafoya, Jenica Gurule. Bianca Contreras (front, left), Leandra Romero, Alexandra Sandoval, Martina Tafoya.

Peñasco Takes Down Two, Loses One

By George Morse

The Class 2A Peñasco High School Lady Panthers took on three bigger high schools and knocked off two of them before falling to the third at the Ben Lujan Invitational basketball tournament at Pojoaque Valley High School. Peñasco defeated Class 4A Bernalillo High School 70-53 Dec. 20 in the opening round of the tournament. The Panthers then staged an incredible comeback against the Class 3A Santa Fe Indian School Lady Braves Dec. 21 in the semifinals, rallying from 10-points down going into the fourth quarter to pull out a 49-47 victory and advance to the championship game.

What made the victory over the Braves all the more remarkable is just two players put points in the scorebook for the Panthers. Carly Gonzales, who had 27 points against Bernalillo, added 27 more against Indian School. Gonzales does her damage on the inside, posting up down low. Adrianna Tafoya bombs away from the outside. She hit four three-pointers in the second half and finished with 22 points.

Indian School use a pressing defense to hold Peñasco to just seven points in the first quarter while putting up 14 points to lead 14-7 after the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Braves added 11 more points while the Panthers scored 11 points. Indian School led 25-17 at halftime. Gonzales had 13 points in the first half.

Gonzales was held scoreless by the Braves in the third quarter. Tafoya kept Peñasco in the game by hitting a pair of three-pointers and scoring eight points. Indian School took a 35-25 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Tafoya kept launching three pointers and hit a pair of them in the fourth quarter. Gonzales found room to operate in the paint and she poured in 14 points in the fourth quarter. The Panthers pressing defense held the Braves to 12 points while Tafoya and Gonzales combined to score 24 points in the fourth quarter to pull out a big victory for Peñasco.

That set up a showdown between the Panthers and the host Pojoaque Valley High School Elkettes Dec. 22 in the championship game.  Class 4A Pojoaque had defeated Class 2A Santa Rosa High School 60-28 in the opening round and beaten Class 2A Dulce High School 63-44 in the semifinals. Pojoaque entered the game undefeated with a 9-0 record and was ranked first in Class 4A.

The Panthers didn’t back down against powerful Elkettes and battled the bigger school into the fourth quarter before Pojoaque was able to pull away to a 51-37 victory.

In the first quarter, Peñasco used a pressing defense to hold the Elkettes scoreless for almost five minutes while Gonzales maneuvered inside and Alaska Lopez fired away from the perimeter. The Panthers took a 6-0 lead before Pojoaque scored. Lopez canned a pair of three-pointers from the corner and Gonzales had five points in the paint. Peñasco led 11-6 after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Pojoaque came storming back thanks to tough interior play by Ashten Martinez and Tonni Aquino, who combined for 12 points. Michaela Martinez added six point by cherry-picking on the fast break for wide open layups. Pojoaque held the cold-shooting Panthers to just seven points and took a 28-18 lead at halftime.

The Panthers came back in the third quarter behind Gonzales and guard Bianca Contreras. Gonzales had five points in the paint and Contreras nailed a pair of three-pointers during an 11-2 run that got the Panthers to within a point of Pojoaque 30-29. With Ashten Martinez on the bench in foul trouble, Pojoaque finally generated a bit of offense towards the end of the third quarter. A key three-pointer by Sara Vigil gave the Elkettes a 37-31 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

A pair of free throws by Gonzales made the score 40-35 in the fourth quarter when Pojoaque put together a decisive run to take control of the game. It started with a three-pointer by Michaela Martinez, who was left alone beyond the three-point arc. Two turnovers by the Panthers led to baskets by Ashten Martinez and Adrianna Quintana. A basket inside by Aquino off a lob pass finished off a 9-0 run that gave Pojoaque a 49-35 lead. The Elkettes went on to a 51-37 victory.

Gonzales scored 15 points. Contreras had 10 points for the Panthers. Gonzales finished the tournament scoring a three-game total of 69 points and earning the high-point award.

Peñasco last season made it to the Class 2A state championship basketball game, where they were defeated by Fort Sumner High School. The Panthers lost just one player to graduation and are looking to make another run at a state championship. They will face increased competition in Class 2A. Defending Class 3A state champion Texico High School, along with strong teams from Pecos High School and Tularosa High School are now members of Class 2A after reclassification by the New Mexico Activities Association. The Panthers compete in District 5-2A.

Peñasco Coach Gilbert Mascarenas believes the tough competition that Peñasco faced taking on bigger schools at the Ben Lujan tournament will be a positive experience despite losing in the championship game.

“It’s going to help us out big time,” Coach Mascarenas said. . “We’re trying to get ready for our district.”

Peñasco's Carly Gonzales eyes the basket against the Pojoaque Elkettes. Gonzales had 15 points against Pojoaque and scored 69 points in three games at the Ben Lujan tournament.

Peñasco's Bianca Contreras dribbles against the Pojoaque Elkettes.

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