Girls: Lady Tigers edge Valencia; BHS goes winless

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It was an intense rivalry game between two county basketball teams for the girls championship of the Village of Los Lunas Holiday Classic on Saturday.

At least through much of the first half.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Valencia guard Lorien Aragon, left, dribbles the ball upcourt, beating the pressure defense of Los Lunas’ Tinaya Murphy during the Village of Los Lunas Holiday Classic championship game. The Tigers took the title game on their home court, beating the Jags in the championship game, 50-34.

An 8-0 run just before halftime gave Los Lunas enough of a lead to survive the comeback attempt by Valencia. The Tigers won convincingly, 50-34.

Los Lunas (9-1) has more than a week off as they get ready to visit Santa Fe Indian School on Tuesday, Jan. 8. Valencia (8-3) is scheduled to visit Santa Fe for a 7 p.m. game Friday at St. Michael’s.

“We are looking forward to the rest of the break to work on conditioning the way that we need to work on it,” said Los Lunas coach Marty Zeller of taking advantage of the long break between games.

Belen (4-5) lost all three games in the tourney. The Eagles are set to play at Los Alamos at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Los Lunas 50, Valencia 34

Los Lunas was never able to exploit the inside presence of Teige Zeller in the first half, as the game remained close.

Miranda Chavez hit an inside shot for Valencia to give the Jags their only lead of the game at 18-17 with just over two-and-a-half minutes until halftime.

“We just need to learn to settle down,” said coach Zeller of the pivotal moment in the contest. “If we just get to our positions and make the passes we want to make, then we will be dangerous.”

What Los Lunas did best in this instance was turn up the defensive pressure. Alyssa Vigil scored her only four points of the night during an 8-0 run to close the first half as the Tiger press gave Los Lunas a 25-18 lead at the break.

The Tigers jumped out to a 32-20 lead in the third quarter, but Valencia was able to close the gap to 38-31.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Belen post Monica Garley-Moore drives to the hoop against Sandia Prep in the seventh place game of the Village of Los Lunas Holiday Classic on Saturday. The Lady Eagles return after the New Year’s break to visit Los Alamos at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

But Valencia could only muster three free throws in the final quarter and only had 10 field goals on the night. Los Lunas outscored the Jags 12-3 in the final eight minutes to secure the win.

Zeller led the Tigers with 17 points. Tinaya Murphy was key in the fourth quarter, scoring seven of her 11 points in the final frame. When the senior hit a 3-pointer with just under two minutes left, the Tigers had the game well in hand, 48-33.

Valencia was led by Miranda Chavez’s 11 points. The Jags played at the tourney without their third-leading scorer, Savannah Stump, who went on vacation.

Sandia Prep 57, Belen 53

The rough weekend for the Lady Eagles boiled down to two points in the seventh place game early Saturday morning.

First, leading scorer Mariah Forde did not score in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. Second, and probably most importantly, Belen did not put the game away in the third quarter when they had the chance.

With a 29-24 halftime lead, the Eagles’ defensive pressure got to the Class 3A Sundevils and Belen built a 37-28 edge. But they could not contain the 3-point shooting of Breana Abeita-Sanchez, who hit five treys on the way to a 19 point night.

Belen still had a chance trailing by just a point late in the game. They trapped Abeita-Sanchez right at the half-court line, but instead of getting a jump ball or five-second call, a foul was given to the Belen defender.

Abeita-Sanchez hit the two free throws to ice the game for Prep.

Forde scored 20 points to lead Belen. Monica Garley-Moore had a nice game inside with 11 points. Kristain Sainz had 10.

Los Lunas 36, Del Norte 32

Trailing 27-21, it looked as if the Tigers were heading to the third place contest. The Knights had stymied the Los Lunas offense for just over three quarters.

But the Tigers went on a 15-4 run to close the game and take a hard-earned four point win. Zeller led the way with 13 points. Murphy contributed seven and Dominique Pohl had five.

“Give the girls credit,” said coach Zeller. “Just for showing the determination, the courage, the heart in getting it done to put us in the championship against a well-coached Del Norte team.”

Valencia 53, Artesia 40

Amy Horner’s 23 points were not enough to stop the balanced attack of the Jags as Valencia downed Artesia to advance to the Classic championship.

Baeza scored 17 and Torres had 13 as Valencia scored 21 points in the first quarter to take an early lead they never relinquished.

Centennial 46, Belen 45

The Eagles could not hold the 35-31 lead they had going into the fourth quarter Friday, as they dropped a heartbreaker to the first-year Hawks.

Forde scored 29 points, but it was not enough to overcome the eight 3-pointers put in by Centennial.

Azia Jones led the Hawks with 15 points.


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