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Lady Cards leapfrog WLV in district thriller

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By Dave Kavanaugh

With a performance that revived its own ambitions, the Robertson girls’ basketball team surprised host West Las Vegas 58-53 on Thursday night in front of a rowdy crowd at Gillie Lopez Gym.

Both sides played inspired ball in a contest that was tied 13-13 after one quarter, 23-23 at halftime and 43-43 through three full quarters.

Really, in a game as competitive as Thursday’s, the significance of every play was magnified.

Karlee Bradley started the fourth period with a three-pointer and a long two, giving the Lady Cardinals the nudge forward they needed — and a 48-43 lead.

After Miranda Martinez’s basket made it a three-point margin, Kim Mares stormed down the floor for a power layup. After a defensive stop by RHS, Kassandra Tapia scored to make it 52-45.

Down seven, the Lady Dons fought back. Linda Esquibel hit a shot in the lane. Martinez pulled up for a three-pointer from the top of the key, trimming the gap to 52-50 with 3:46 left.

Robertson’s Daniella Montoya swished a pretty floater to again make it a two-possession game.

Then Kristen Encinias drew contact — no surprise in a physical but mostly clean battle — and hit one of two free throws. And after a defensive stop by WLV, Esquibel scored on a putback to make it 54-53 with 1:18 to go.

As if to answer, Mares toiled for her own offensive rebound on the other end, knocking down a shot amid heavy traffic. Unable to answer that bucket, the Lady Dons fouled Brooke Knezevich. Knezevich hit the front end of a one-and-one trip to the foul line to give her team a 57-53 lead with 24 seconds left. Tapia tacked on an insurance free throw with a second left.

It was another big night for Knezevich, who scored 10 of her game-high 21 in a back-and-forth first quarter. Mares and Montoya tallied 10 apiece, and Tapia had 9.

Esquibel led West with 19 points; Vanessa Lucero had six of her 12 in the first quarter; and Martinez scored 10.

With the first half of District 2-3A play complete, RHS is 3-2 in the divsion; WLV is 2-3.

Notes: In other district girls’ hoops Thursday, Pojoaque stayed unbeaten at 21-0, 5-0 district, goring St. Michael’s (3-2) 52-37. And Santa Fe Indian (2-3) dropped Raton (0-5) 69-28.