Overcoming an uncharacteristically sluggish start, the West Las Vegas Lady Dons cranked up the defensive heat Wednesday night in a 35-24 win over host Pojoaque Valley in the third-place game of the Ben Lujan Invitational.
It was a significant victory for West (8-1) in that it came against a respected District 2-3A rival and defending state champion playing at home.
From the opening tip Wednesday, defense dictated the contest. Pojoaque was a little bit stingier in controlling a 10-2 first period.
But the Lady Dons adjusted quickly. They held the Elkette offense to one made foul shot in the second quarter, outscoring their host 12-1 to go ahead 14-11 at halftime.
An evenly played third period ended with West holding a 23-20 edge. But instead of allowing a Pojoaque run over the final eight minutes, the Lady Dons finished strong, outscoring the Elkettes 12-4 down the stretch.
Miranda Martinez and Briana Montaño each scored a game-high 11 points for WLV. Linda Esquibel had nine points, and Vanessa Lucero added four.
West had opened the tourney on Monday with a 69-51 rout of Class 4A foe Grants, with Lucero and Martinez tallying 17 points apiece.
Then on Tuesday, another Class 4A program in Española dealt the Lady Dons their first defeat of the season, 57-55.
West trailed by a single point with a minute left but the Sundevil girls held on to secure a spot in the final.
Martinez led West with 18 points; Lucero had 14 and Esquibel 10.
The Lady Dons and head coach Jose Medina play host to Capital on Tuesday at the Gillie Lopez Gym.