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Lady Cards rally to beat Lovington

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RHS moves to state semifinals, will play Portales

By Dave Kavanaugh

Lovington's Kenzie Black had a hot hand from three-point land Tuesday morning.

Fortunately for Robertson fans, so did Karlee Bradley, Kim Mares and Daniella Montoya.

Each of those RHS players hit key outside baskets to keep their team in the game early on. And late in the teams' state quarterfinal matchup, the troika of Montoya, Brooke Knezevich and Kassandra Tapia led the Lady Cards back from an eight-point deficit to a 65-55 upset of the third-seeded Lady Wildcats.

Stephanie Hernandez's free throws had given Lovington a 55-48 advantage midway through the fourth period. Then, Robertson scored 17 straight points to wrest control away and secure the team's biggest win of the season.

Bradley scored 11 of her 16 points in the first half to help Robertson match the explosive output of Black, who finished, unofficially, with a game-high 26. Knezevich also scored 16 for RHS and Montoya added 13.

Robertson got some fine defensive plays from several players, including Tapia, who swatted a couple of shots -- and came up with a steal that led to a coast-to-coast layup to make it 61-55 with just under a minute left.

Lovington had defeated Robertson by 16 points, 51-35, in their lone meeting this past season.

RHS was seeded 11th in the tourney but has knocked off two higher seeds by double-digit margins. This past Friday, the Lady Cards soared past host Crownpoint, the No. 6 seed, 61-38.

Robertson and coach Aunna Roanhaus advance to the Class 3A girls Final Four and will play Portales, a 52-30 winner over West Las Vegas.  The semifinal game will tip off at 8 a.m. Thursday, also at The Pit in Albuquerque.

In its quarterfinal against Portales, West lacked its usual offensive punch and quickly saw three of its stars saddled with foul trouble. Except for a 5-4 lead after a bucket by Linda Esquibel, the Lady Dons trailed throughout the game.

Down 15-5 early in the second period, WLV had a 9-3 run to draw within four. But the Lady Dons got no closer, and despite a series of missed foul shots and other offensive miscues by the Rams, they could not capitalize down the stretch.

Vanessa Lucero fouled out with four minutes left, and Esquibel and Kristen Encinias played with four fouls for much of the final period.

Tuesday's game was the last for WLV seniors Encinias and Arissa Collins.

Also Tuesday morning, the fourth-seeded Mora Rangerettes lost to fifth-seeded Lordsburg 70-66 in the Class 2A girls opener, held at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

Wednesday, the second round of the boys' tourney, featuring WLV and Pecos in 3A and 2A, respectively, begins.

Check back with the Optic Web site for more updates from the state tournaments. And read the Optic this week for more on area sports.