Lady Jags can't overcome Grants' rally in home loss

........................................................................................................................................................................................

At times, the Valencia girls seemed poised to put Thursday's District 6-4A game away.

But in the end, it was the Grants Pirates that delivered the death blow, and gave the Jags their first district basketball loss, 44-40.

Valencia went up 39-28 with less than a minute left in the third quarter. Over the next seven minutes, Grants put together a 16-0 run to steal a win on the Jags' home floor.

How did Valencia let it slip away?

"That is what I am asking myself," said Jag coach Shannon Vigil. "One point in the whole (fourth) quarter. We could not find anyone who wanted to score, and we ran through our whole playbook."

Valencia (14-5 overall, 2-1 in District 6-4A) is set to visit county rival Belen (7-10, 1-2) at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

"I am sure Belen will have some confidence going in," said Vigil, noting that the Jags loss and Belen's 51-48 win over Miyamura on Thursday will give the Eagles some motivation.

"It will be a big challenge and we will see if they can rise to it."

Grants started the fourth quarter with two 3-pointers from Jami Strevak to cut the Valencia lead to 39-37. Sydney Mares hit four straight free throws to give Grants the lead for good.

The Pirates built the edge to 44-39, before Brenda Baeza ended the run with 1:27 left in the game by hitting a free throw. It would be the only point Valencia would score in the final period.

It was the second time in the contest that Grants rallied in the contest. Valencia went up 18-10 in the second quarter, only to see Grants tie it at 21-all before Savannah Stump hit two free throws to give the Jags a 23-21 halftime lead.

"I didn't see any fire in them at all," said Vigil. "When we had the lead, or when we were down, it wasn't there at all."

Baeza led the Jags scoring with 15 points. Stump added nine, Karina Dow had five and Miranda Chavez scored four.

Tori Torres and Norene Archuleta each hit a 3-pointer as their only scoring in the game.

Brianna Fank led the Pirates with 14 points, while Sydney Mares added 12 and Jami Strevak had 10.


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