Lady Dons hope for high seed

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By Dave Kavanaugh

West Las Vegas got one step closer to its dream of postseason glory in girls’ basketball with a come-from-behind 50-43 win over St. Michael’s on Wednesday in the District 2-3A tournament.

The Lady Dons were to play regular-season runner-up Pojoaque Valley on Thursday night at Ben Lujan Gym in Jacona; Thursday’s victor plays at regular-season champ Santa Fe Indian School on Saturday afternoon.

Once the district tournament title is settled, the teams of District 2-3A will join their counterparts from around the state for Sunday’s state tournament selection and seeding show. A standing committee of the New Mexico Activities Association will determine which teams make it to state, and what the first-round matchups will be. WLV, a top five team most of the season, is expected to draw a high seed and host a first-round game on March 2. Robertson’s Lady Cardinals, who have also been in the top 10 in Class 3A, are expected to make the 16-team field, though it is unclear where they will be seeded. RHS lost to St. Mike’s 44-41 on Tuesday, the opening night of the district tournament.

 WLV 50, St. Mike’s 43

With the St. Mike’s defensive strategy geared toward containing coast-to-coast threat Linda Esquibel, West Las Vegas had to come up with an effective counter — and did.

Miranda Martinez willed the Lady Dons through a sluggish start Wednesday, and the junior point guard bought her team enough time to overtake the Lady Horsemen.

Victoria Ulibarri and Brittney Quintana, two of St. Mike’s leaders, dominated the first half on offense, at least on the visitor’s side of the ledger.

St. Mike’s grew a 13-8 first-quarter lead to 20-8 midway through the second period.

Then Martinez knocked down a couple of three-point baskets and slashed in for a layup that made the halftime score 20-16.

Briana Montaño, scoring off a Martinez assist, tied the game at 22-22 two minutes into the third quarter. After a couple more ties, the Lady Dons pulled ahead for good with three and a half minutes left in the third.

WLV led 33-30 at the end of the period, following a bucket by Krystle Montaño.

Vanessa Lucero, held to a single first-half basket, came alive in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter. Her old-fashioned three-point play gave the Lady Dons a 38-32 advantage with 5:20 left. Less than a minute later, she nailed a three-pointer while getting hacked by Ulibarri. After swishing the foul shot for a rare four-point play, Lucero made the score 42-34.

Hampered much of the game by the Lady Horsemen, Esquibel scored off a feed from Briana Montaño. Then Martinez hit two free throws to make it a double-digit cushion, 46-36, with 2:33 left.

But St. Mike’s slashed the deficit in half in the next 90 seconds; Monique Romero’s three-pointer made it 48-43 with a minute to go.

Esquibel sank two insurance free throws with 32 seconds left to complete the scoring.

St. Mike’s 44, Robertson 41

One night earlier, the Lady Horsemen took a 44-41 nailbiter over visiting Robertson.

Daniella Montoya and Kassandra Tapia scored 12 points apiece to lead the Lady Cardinals.

Robertson and coach Aunna Bradley, who made it all the way to the state semifinals in 2009, await the selection committee’s approval for a return trip.