Second quarter key to VHS girls’ win at Belen

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Valencia High’s girls basketball team avoided its usual one bad quarter in Saturday’s 57-38 win at Belen, limiting its struggle to a bad couple of minutes.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Valencia’s Karina Dow, right, tries to keep Belen’s Ari Valdez from stealing the ball in Saturday’s game. Valencia built a double-digit lead in the second quarter of its 57-38 win, and Belen hosts Los Lunas for a 7 p.m. game Friday.

The host Lady Eagles, who had been getting better in some areas, took a small step backward, committing unforced turnovers and missing layups and free throws in the loss.

Valencia improved to 15-5 overall and 3-1 in District 6-4A with the win. The Lady Jaguars were set to host Los Lunas on Tuesday after News-Bulletin press time, and play at Gallup at 7 p.m. Friday.

Belen, which dropped to 7-11 overall and 1-3 in district, was set to play at Grants on Tuesday. The Eagles are scheduled to host Los Lunas on Friday night.

“Hopefully, we’ve learned our lesson,” about having an entirely bad quarter, said VHS coach Shannon Vigil. “The girls fought through some adversity tonight, and got back to executing better.”

After the two teams swapped the lead seven times in the first half, Valencia went on a 7-0 run to end the second quarter to take command for good. The Jags, who led 29-17 at the half, had their lead cut to 37-27 midway through the third quarter, but settled down and went up by as many as 21 points in the fourth quarter.

The game appeared to be officiated very inconsistently, with the Jags ending up on the foul line 39 times, making only 24 free throws. Belen got to the stripe 27 times, making only 13.

The Eagles also seemed to struggle with Valencia’s zone press in traveling and throwing the ball away, and missed countless layups and other open shots. Belen seemed to score more easily on fast breaks.

Belen could have cut the lead to eight in the third quarter, had its leading scorer, Mariah Forde, been able to put the ball in on a one-on-one with Valencia’s Mariah Ibuado. However, Ibuado drew a charge on the play, which brought the VHS bench and large crowd to their feet.

“Taking a charge always gets our girls fired up,” said Vigil. “That seemed to bring up the intensity.”

Ibuado had seven points off the bench, and filled in nicely when starters got into early foul trouble. Brenda Baeza led the Jags with 18 points, while Karina Dow added 11. Forde was held to 11 points by the Jaguars. Kristian Sainz got into early foul trouble and had to sit much of the first half, finishing with eight points.

If you get down against good teams, they make it really hard to get back in it,” said Belen coach Dereck Atencio. “It’s tough when you don’t play well at home. The things we were able to affect — we didn’t do a good job with those. We need to have that extra fire. It’s a frustrating loss.”

The teams meet again at VHS on Tuesday, Feb. 19.


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