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Pojoaque wins title with strong finish, beats Peñasco, 51-37

December 23, 2018

JACONA — The Pojoaque Valley Elkettes can finish with the best of them.

It’s the starts that vex them right now.

That quality has put Pojoaque into some tough spots, but it is offset by its ability to overwhelm teams with large scoring runs. The Peñasco Lady Panthers experienced that Saturday night in the girls basketball championship game of the Ben Luján Tournament in Ben Luján Gymnasium. Pojoaque used a 18-3 second-quarter run and a closing 17-6 spurt to fashion a 51-37 win and repeat as tournament champions.

The Elkettes improved to 10-0 — a perfect way to end the 2018 portion of the 2018-19 season.

Well, almost perfect.

“We’re struggling at the beginning of the half, and we’re struggling at the beginning of the second half,” Pojoaque head coach Seledon Martinez said. “It will be addressed now over the holiday, and we go forth from there. I just don’t know why it happens, if we relax or get cold and have to build it up over again.”

Martinez said the troubling part about the slow starts is that the reason for them shifts. Against Peñasco, it was the guard play that struggled to get off on the right foot. The Elkettes were down 11-6 after a quarter. Lady Panthers guard Alaska Lopez drained a pair of 3-pointers after going scoreless Friday in a 49-47 semifinal win over Santa Fe Indian School.

Momentum changed, though, when Pojoaque wing Michaela Martinez got hot. She scored six of her 13 points in the second quarter. The Elkettes outscored Peñasco 18-3 to build a 24-14 lead. As much as the Elkettes hit their stride, Lady Panthers head coach Gilbert Mascarenas saw his girls hit the wall.

He pointed to the incredible fourth-quarter rally against the Lady Braves, in which Peñasco (7-2) finished on a 24-12 run, as the reason for his team’s suddenly flat play.

“We came out on fire [against Pojoaque], but I think we lost our legs a little bit,” Mascarenas said.

Peñasco got its second wind in the third quarter, using a 10-2 opening run. The Lady Panthers within 30-28 on Bianca Contreras’ second 3 of the quarter. What looked like a protracted finish suddenly took a different shape when Sam Vigil drained a 3 late in the third quarter. It gave Pojoaque a 37-31 lead going into the final eight minutes.

The fourth quarter belonged to the Elkettes’ bigs — Ashten Martinez and Tonni Aquino. The pair combined for seven points in the final period, and Aquino scored the final two baskets to finish with a team-high 14 points. Ashten Martinez tied Michael with

13 points.

Third place

Santa Fe Indian School 52,

Dulce 32

The Class 3A Lady Braves weren’t about to let another 2A school take them down. They outscored the Lady Hawks 23-9 in the second and third quarters to build a 40-21 lead and took third place.

SFIS (5-2) only led 17-12 after a quarter. The Lady Braves held Dulce to just three points in the second quarter to build a 30-15 lead at the break. Camilla Lewis led the Lady Braves with 12 points and Marlena Yazzie added 11. Dulce (5-4) was lead by Vigil with nine points. Dulce lost Caitlin Duncan to a knee injury in the fourth quarter.

Fifth place

Bernalillo 65, Santa Rosa 29

The Lady Spartans (8-5) won the consolation bracket championship, building a 45-12 lead at the half. Juliana Aragon had nine of her 24 points in the opening quarter as Bernalillo took a 20-8 lead. Gabby Montoya chipped in with 10 of her 12 points in the opening half. Kaylee Harrison led Santa Rosa (4-5) with eight points.

Seventh place

McCurdy 52, Tierra Encantada 12

The Lady Bobcats certainly took advantage of the Lady Alacranes’ situation, pressing and running their way to a 30-6 lead against a team that had just six players.

Erika Loera had 10 of her 14 points in the first half for McCurdy (3-5), while Angie Arroyos and Jayme Bustos matched her for team-high honors. Ida Contreras paced Tierra Encantada (0-6) with six points.

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