Lady Eagles’ comeback falls short; will face Bulldogs again

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Artesia, with its height and physical play, was a tough test for the improving Belen girls basketball team Friday.

It was a bad combination for Belen’s leading scorer, Mariah Forde, and the rest of the Lady Eagles. She was held to 11 points as the Lady Bulldogs handed the Eagles a 36-29 win.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Felicia Olguin of Belen, right, closes in on an Artesia ball handler in Friday’s game. The Lady Eagles lost to Artesia, 36-29, and will face the Lady Bulldogs again at about 3 p.m. on Thursday in the first round of the Village of Los Lunas Holiday Classic.

Belen (4-2) now gets ready for the Village of Los Lunas Classic where they will face the same Artesia (4-2) in the first round at about 3 p.m. on Thursday.

BHS coach Derek Atencio noted that the Eagles would have to not let Artesia build an early lead, like the 12-3 first quarter edge the visitors built Friday.

“I thought that when we played our game, we matched up right with them,” said Atencio

The Eagles made an impressive run in the second quarter, holding the Bulldogs scoreless until the last 50 seconds. The 9-0 run tied the game at 12, but Leslie Lewis hit a trey to give Artesia the 15-12 lead at the half.

“We just can’t fall behind like that,” said Atencio. “We can’t let that happen and think we will be alright. I think having to come back like that, you are just drained.”

Forde had an off night, missing all four of her 3-pointers that are usually her bread and butter. No other Eagle had more than six points.

The Eagle press netted some results in the second half. Belen was within 31-27 with less than two minutes to play in the game.

However, Artesia then got a breakaway bucket and Madison Willingham hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final minute.

Willingham was the only Bulldog in double figures with 14 points.

“I think that we were slightly intimidated,” said Atencio of the first quarter when Artesia hit two threes to build the lead. “We just have to settle down and play our game. I guess a team as good as they are, when you get them down, they make it really miserable for you to get back into the game.”


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