Valencia girls triumph over Lady Eagles

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The string of close contests for the Valencia girls basketball team continued Tuesday night as the Lady Jags escaped with a 52-46 District 6-4A win.

With the win, Valencia (19-6 overall, 7-2 in district) clinches at least second place in the district and will not have to play a first-round game in the district playoffs next week. They will host a district semifinal game at 7 p.m. on Thursday against an opponent to be determined in the first round on Tuesday night.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Kristian Sainz splits two Valencia defenders, Miranda Chavez (30) and Brenda Baeza (23), for a bucket in the Lady Eagles’ 52-46 loss to the Jaguars on Tuesday.

“Clinching at least second is very good for us,” said Jag coach Shannon Vigil. “It gives a chance to get ready with some days of rest before having to play again.”

The district championship was determined in a game that tipped off after News-Bulletin press time Friday night with Los Lunas (21-4, 8-1) hosting Valencia.

Belen (7-16 overall) was to host Grants Friday, also after News-Bulletin press time, with a chance to improve their district mark of 1-7.

Belen will be on the road to start the district playoffs on Tuesday with the site and opponent to be determined after Friday night’s games. Tip off for all district playoff games is slated for 7 p.m.

“We have had a couple of poor games, but overall we have played everyone in our district very close,” said first-year Belen coach Derek Atencio. “We have to try and make someone’s life miserable in the playoffs. Maybe we can steal one or two.”

Tuesday’s game was very close for much of three quarters before Valencia opened an eight-point lead in the final period.

Karina Dow hit two technical free throws to lift the Jags to a 44-36 edge.

Dow hit a lay-up with more than four minutes left in the game to give the Jags a 47-40 edge.

Belen went into a full court press and caused several turnovers. When Kristian Sainz put up a 10-foot jumper over two Jaguars, the Eagles closed the game to within three points, 47-44.

With 10 seconds left, Valencia settled the contest when Miranda Chavez hit two free throws to make it 50-44.

Mariah Forde, who led the Belen scoring with 16 points, hit two free throws with six seconds left to make it 50-46.

Dow, who led the Jags with 14 points, hit two more free throws with a half-second left.

Savannah Stump had 14 points for Valencia, Tori Torres and Brenda Baeza scored nine each, Raeanne Herrera scored four and Chavez had two.

Torres had all three of the Jags’ 3-pointers. Forde and Ari Valdez hit two treys apiece for Belen.

For Belen, Sainz scored nine, Valdez had eight, Destinee Vigil put in seven, Jordan Rodriguez scored four and Kaylyn Gomez had two.


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