It’ll be an East vs. West matchup in this weekend’s District 2-3A girls’ basketball tournament championships after West Las Vegas’ dramatic 48-46 win over Taos on Wednesday night at Gillie Lopez Gym.
The regular-season champ Robertson Lady Cardinals (19-6) have had the week off to wait for the survivor of the girls’ bracket. Taos, which beat Raton Monday, took the Lady Dons to the limit on Wednesday before falling.
The girls’ district final tips off at 7 p.m. Friday at Mike Marr Gym.
Robertson’s home court will also be the site for the boys’ tournament final at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Cardinals, winners of the last dozen games, will play the winner of Thursday’s West Las Vegas-Taos matchup. The Dons smashed Raton 65-41 on Tuesday night in the tourney opener.
Once district tournaments across the state are brought to a close, attention turns to Sunday’s state tournament selection and seeding show hosted by the New Mexico Activities Association.
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Maya Roybal scored the game-winning bucket with six seconds left Wednesday night, and she helped deny Taos a final shot in West’s 48-46 triumph.
The game featured 18 lead changes and 11 ties, and neither side led by more than five points the entire evening.
Michelle Tapia had six points in the first period and finished with 15 total for the Lady Dons, who avenged a Feb. 19 loss at Taos to end the regular season.
Roybal (12 points) and Miranda Martinez (11) joined her in double figures.
Taos threatened to steal the show early with three first-quarter three-pointers by Monica Trujillo; the last made it 14-11 Lady Tigers. But Vanessa Lucero swished a three-ball to tie the game before the quarter ended.
West’s interior players — Tapia, Roybal, Lucero and Michelle Montaño — proved adept at stepping out on defense when needed, but they did plenty of work on the glass, giving their team additional shots.
Roybal tallied eight points in the second period as WLV took a 24-23 halftime edge.
It was 37-37 entering the final period.
Taos’ Marisol Martinez knotted the score at 46 with less than a minute left. And the Lady Tigers appeared to catch a break when a Miranda Martinez pass sailed high and wide on the next series.
But, as with seemingly everything else in this closely played game, that turnover was evened out. Taos was called for a turnover on the ensuing possession with 10 seconds to go.
Moving the ball swiftly, the Lady Dons made the most of the break. Martinez lobbed the ball ahead to Roybal’s high reaching grasp, and the youngster popped the ball in for a basket with six seconds left.
On the next possession, Roybal defended the inbounds pass, which went to Brittany Gonzales. The Lady Dons chased Gonzales to the high post and prevented her from getting a last-second shot off.
Unofficial scoring, WLV: Michelle Tapia 15; Maya Roybal 12; Miranda Martinez 11; Vanessa Lucero 6; Briana Montaño 2; Michelle Montaño 2.
Taos: Brittany Gonzales 15; Monica Trujillo 11; Marisol Martinez 8; Marisa Mares 4; Camille Rivera 3; Cindy Hoang 2.
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Branden Quintana scored 10 of his game-high 20 points in the decisive second quarter Tuesday night, helping the Dons blow out visiting Raton.
Defense led directly to offense multiple times for West, and Quintana was Exhibit A, getting into the Tigers’ passing lanes and stealing the ball for fast-break chances.
In a couple cases, Quintana scored on layups. But West really asserted its dominance over Raton when Quintana, assisted both times by point guard Chris Chavez, hit back-to-back three-pointers midway through the period. The second trifecta left the home team ahead 27-14, and post Steven Gonzales added a putback to make it 29-14.
By halftime the Dons were up 35-20 — a good deal more comfortable than the 13-10 spread on the scoreboard after the first quarter.
It was more of the same after intermission, as the Dons opened the half with a 12-0 run that erased all doubt as to the outcome. An energized Gonzales scored on a putback. Then Mike Martinez dished to James Duran for a three-pointer. Duran also starred on the next highlight-reel play.
Martin Blea, moving along the right wing, spotted Duran on the side of the key and passed him the ball. Duran dribbled, then put the ball in orbit around his torso before laying it up and in to the hoop, drawing cheers from the Gillie Lopez faithful.
West led 53-22 at the end of the third, and the difference never went below 24 points.
Unofficial scoring, WLV: Branden Quintana 20; Steven Gonzales 14; T.J. Esquibel 8; Chris Chavez 6; James Duran 5; Ortiz 5; Martin Blea 2; Steven Salinas 2; Devon Williams 2; Mike Martinez 1.
Raton: Justin Silva 12; Derrick Valdez 12; Hunter Allen 6; Matt Earle 4; Joe Apache 3; Matthew Ortiz 2.