Sundevils Shoot Down Elkettes

by Editor / Mar 12, 2019 / 0 comments
Pojoaque's Ashten Martinez and Española's Kaylee Chavez jump at center in the opening tipoff of an opening-round game of the Class 4A state basketball tournament March 8 at Pojoaque. Española defeated Pojoaque 67-57 to advance to the quarterfnalsat The Pit in Albuquerque (photo by Chris Roybal).

Lady Sundevils Shoot Down Elkettes

 By George Morse

The Española Valley High School Lady Sundevils have lived and died by the three-point basket all season long. When the shots are falling, Española’s offense is clicking. The Sundevils will live to fight another day after pouring in 11 three-pointers against the Pojoaque Valley High School Elkettes in a 67-57 victory in the opening round of the Class 4A State Basketball Tournament March 8 at Pojoaque’s Ben Lujan Gym.

‘We came out and showed our heart and toughness,” Española coach Joe Estrada said. “They played very smart basketball – and we shot well.”

Pojoaque was leading 1-0 when Española’s Anita DeAguero drained a three-pointer from the top of the key that was a harbinger of what was to come. The Elkettes were leading 8-7 when Española’s Destiny Valdez nailed a three-pointer from the wing. Pojoaque’s Taylor Roybal answered with her second three-pointer to give the Elkettes an 11-10 lead. Española’s Kaylee Chavez came right back with a long three-pointer that hit nothing but net. After Pojoaque took a 15-13 lead, Española’s Jasmine Baca snuck behind Pojoaque’s defense for a back door layup and Chavez launched in another three-pointer.

Pojoaque came back and the Elkettes were leading 19-18 when Chavez nailed her third three-pointer with 15 seconds left in the first quarter to give Española a 21-19 lead. Pojoaque never led again.

Chavez had an old-fashioned, three-point play to start the second quarter. The score was 24-20 when Christianne Sandoval came in off the bench and promptly nailed a three-pointer. That was the first of four straight treys by the Sundevils. Valdez nailed the next one, then Sandoval nailed another that spun around the rim, off the backboard and then through the net. When Chavez launched a three-pointer that hit the front of the rim, went straight up into the air and then fell through the net, you could feel that the ball was bouncing Española’s way.

Pojoaque found something that worked and that was to feed the ball to freshman Tonni Aquino in the low lost. Aquino scored six straight points to cut Española’s lead to 36-31. DeAguero scooped in a layup near the buzzer to give Española a 38-31 lead at halftime.

Aquino was still finding room down low and made a couple of trips to the free-throw line to start the third quarter, where she was 2-of-4. Kaylinn Martinez, who was the focus of Pojoaque’s box-and-one defense after torching the Elkettes in two earlier games, hit her only three-pointer of this game. After making nine three-pointers in the first half, Española had just two in the second half.

Leading 41-33, the Sundevils found other ways to score. DeAguero had Pojoaque’s defense chasing her all over, but she found enough room to score a basket and feed Baca for a couple more inside. Baca had six points and Española took a 49-40 lead. Pojoaque managed to close the gap to 49-43 going into the fourth quarter.

Just when it looked like Pojoaque would make a run and tighten the game up after the Elkettes closed to within four points 53-49 of Española in the fourth quarter, the Sundevils had an answer. Chavez passed to Valdez, who buried a corner three-pointer. On Pojoaque’s ensuing possession a steal by Baca led to a layup by Chavez and Española was back up by nine.

When Valdez nailed a pair of free throws with 1:24 left in the game to keep the lead at nine points 62-53, time was running out on the Elkettes. Desperation crept in. Shots were hurried, fouls were commited and Española went to the free-throw line. The Sundevils led by as many as 14 points in the final minute of the game before settling for a 67-57 victory.

The leading scorer for Española was Chavez with 26 points. Valdez tallied 11 points and Baca came up with 10 points for the Sundevils.

“I’m not going to talk up about what a great coaching job I did,” Coach Estrada said. “It was all their hustle and desire.”

Aquino led the Elkettes with 15 points. Senior point guard Taylor Roybal, a starter since her freshman year, had nine points.

“They were just hot on their three-pointers,” Roybal said. “We went down and never came back.”

It was a bittersweet ending to a great season for the Elkettes. Pojoaque finished the year 23-5 and won its first district championship in 10 years. During the District 2-4A season, Pojoaque defeated Española twice 56-53 at Española and 53-52 in overtime at Pojoaque.

On this night, the ball kept going Española’s way. When Pojoaque would force a turnover, Española more often than not would take it away right back. It was the Sundevils whose shots found their mark.

“My kids gave me everything they had,” Pojoaque Coach Seledon Martinez said. “They (Española) hit their shots and they had the nerve to take them. Their role players came up big.”

Española advances to the Class 4A state quarterfinals, where they will face Albuquerque’s Highland High School. Highland defeated Los Alamos High School 62-38 at Highland March 8 in their opening-round game. The Sundevils and the Hornets will face off Tuesday at The Pit in Albuquerque bright and early at 8 a.m. in the morning.

Española's Anita DeAguero dishes off to Kaylee Chavez for  an open look beyond the three-point arc. Española sank 11 three-pointers against Pojoaque.Chavez had 26 points and four three-pointers (photo by Chris Roybal).

Española's Kaylee Chavez heads downcourt against Pojoaque (photo by Chris Roybal).

Española's Miranda Salazar hands the ball off to Kaylee Chavez against Pojoaqu(photo by Chris Roybal).

Española's Miranda Salazar dribbles between two Pojoaque defender (photo by Chris Roybal).

Pojoaque's Tonni Aquino gets the ball in the paint against Española. Aquino had 15 points against Española.

Pojoaque's Ashten Martinez manuvers towards the basket against Española.

Pojoaque's Taylor Roybal shoots a three-pointer against Española.


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