Lady Jags struggle to find scoring in loss to St. Pius

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Fans of the Valencia High girls basketball team knew that this season would be a bit of a rebuilding effort by coach Shannon Vigil and her staff.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Brenda Baeza splits St. Pius defenders Ciera Rocco, left, and Emily Dieterichs for a inside shot in the Jaguars’ 61-27 season-opening home loss on Tuesday. The Jags will be in next week’s Al Armendariz in Santa Fe, opening against Deming at 2 p.m. on Thursday.

Valencia lost seven seniors and most of their scoring from a season that featured the Jags reaching the state quarterfinals.

It was evident that Valencia would miss last year’s veteran group, as the Jags could not find a “go-to” scorer in Tuesday’s season-opening 61-27 loss to St. Pius (1-0).

Valencia (0-1 after Tuesday’s loss) was set to host Sandia Prep on Friday in a game scheduled for after News-Bulletin press time. The Lady Sundevils opened the season with a 61-51 win over Atrisco Heritage on Tuesday.

“For these next games, we’re going to work on our pressure defense and finishing around the basket,” said Valencia coach Shannon Vigil. “Players and teams may have bad shooting nights but there’s no excuse for poor defense.”

Deming will be the first round opponent on Thursday, Dec. 6, for the Lady Jaguars in the annual Al Armendariz Tournament, held at Capital High in Santa Fe.

The Sartans took control early in the game on Tuesday, running off 12 straight points in just under three minutes to take an 18-3 lead.

Junior Miranda Chavez and senior Miranda Buck scored in the final minute of the first quarter to bring the Lady Jags within 20-7 going into the second quarter.

Valencia then went on a long scoring drought, not scoring until 3:13 left in the first half. St. Pius reeled off 15 points during the Jags’ scoreless run.

The Jags only shot 19 percent from the field and had 30 turnovers. Valencia did get 13 steals and Chavez blocked two shots.

“Over the summer, I pondered that question, ‘Where is our scoring going to come from?’” said Vigil after the contest. “We need to find a consistent scorer. Several people have the potential to fill that role, and hopefully, someone, or a couple girls, step up. We hope our press becomes our strong point and that we can score off of steals and fast breaks.”

Karina Dow scored on a layup to break the scoreless streak, but St. Pius had built a 35-9 edge. The Sartans led at the half, 47-13.

Natalie Zamora led the Sartans with 25 points and was the only double-figure scorer in the contest. She scored most of her points on breakaway baskets and a 7-of-8 effort from the free throw line.

Valencia was led by Chavez with five points, all in the first half, and senior Tori Torres with five, including the only 3-point bucket for the Jags.

Buck and Savannah Stump added four points apiece and four other Jags scored two points each.


-- Email the author at mstearns@news-bulletin.com.