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Lady Dons: Lujan champs!

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West is 8-1

By Dave Kavanaugh

For the first time in Jose “Majic” Medina’s eight-year run as West Las Vegas girls’ basketball coach, the Lady Dons are Ben Lujan Invitational champs.

West (8-1) downed Taos  61-45 in the championship game of the tournament on Wednesday night in Jacona.

Briana Montaño (17 points) led the Lady Dons in scoring for the second time in the three-day event.

But as has been the case this year, it was another team effort.

“The girls hustled out there,” Medina said. “They played real well.

There’s still things we need to work on. We have to keep improving. But one thing we stress is to hustle and go after the loose balls and hit the boards.”

West started strong and opened a 37-25 halftime lead. The Lady Tigers pared that down to 45-36  going into the final quarter.

Then the Lady Dons finished with the hunger they showed in the start.

WLV’s Michelle Tapia recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Vanessa Lucero had eight points and seven boards, as did Michelle Montaño. Megan Martinez scored eight, and Miranda Martinez recorded nine assists and six rebounds.

WLV and Taos are now rivals in the newly reconfigured District 2-3A. They’ll meet again Feb. 8 at Gillie Lopez Gym and Feb. 19 in Taos.

“Taos has improved a lot,” Medina said. “Their guard play as well as their post play. They made us work defensively.”

Medina said his club had finished as runner-up in the Ben Lujan a couple of times but had never won the event before Wednesday.

The Lady Dons reached the final by handing Class 4A Española Valley (8-1) its first loss of the season, 50-38 in Tuesday’s semifinals.

After going up by eight at halftime, West led just 36-31 going into the fourth quarter but finished strong, outscoring the Lady Sundevils 14-7 in the final frame.

Miranda Martinez led all scorers with 17 points, and Michelle Montaño put up a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

West had to play efficiently after Vanessa Lucero was saddled with three personal fouls in the opening quarter. WLV led 11-7 after one period and 28-20 at intermission.

Taos (6-4), meanwhile, reached Wednesday’s final by surprising tournament host Pojoaque 46-44 on Tuesday night.

West’s path through the Ben Lujan bracket began with Monday’s 52-37 rout of Bernalillo. Briana Montaño torched the Spartan girls for a game-high 23 points.

West led 16-7 through one quarter, 28-21 at halftime and 43-25 through three quarters.

The Lady Dons will host a make-up game against Bernalillo on Wednesday, Dec. 29. Action begins with the freshman game at 1 p.m.