Lady Jags end season with quarterfinal loss to Santa Fe

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When you are a girls basketball team with a 20-8 record, one would think that it would be hard to overlook you as a team deserving to have made it to the Class 4A state tournament quarterfinals.

Coach Shannon Vigil thinks that is exactly what happened with her Lady Jaguars this season, which came to an end at the Pit with a 45-38 heart-breaking loss to Santa Fe on Tuesday.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: valencia’s Brenda baeza splits two Santa Fe defenders on her way to scoring during the Jaguars’ 45-38 quarterfinal loss Tuesday to the Demons.

Valencia has seen their season in the first game at the Pit the past two seasons. But those Jaguar teams were expected to be there.

“We didn’t get enough credit this year,” said Vigil, noting that the Jags still need to win one at the Pit. “We are still on that quest. People did not expect us to be here.”

Losing most of their scorers from last year, Valencia was in a tough spot. But they made it to the Pit as the No. 6 seed, taking on No. 3 Santa Fe.

Valencia fell behind early, trailing 25-13 at the half. They played Santa Fe even through the third quarter, trailing 36-23.

Valencia had 22 turnovers in the game, while Santa Fe only had 13.

“I think that we were not relaxed. We threw the ball away,” said Brenda Baeza, whose post play was one of the reasons the Jags made it so far. “I thought that we could do it.”

Valencia made a run in the final quarter, scoring 15 points. Baeza got Valencia as close as they would get with a 3-pointer with 4:28 left.

Trailing 38-31, Baeza was all alone on the left wing. She held the ball for a moment and no one from the Santa Fe defense chose to cover her. With the crowd yelling for her to shoot the three, she raised her hand and intently put the ball up in the air. She looked with surprise as the ball swished cleanly through the net to bring the Jags within four points.

“I just shot it because I heard the crowd yelling for me to shoot it,” said Baeza. “I just wanted to see the energy kept up.”

The Jags played good, high-energy defense on the next possession, but Santa Fe hit a couple of free throws and held off the Valencia rally.

Baeza finished the game with 17 points. Karina Dow scored 10 and Savannah Stump added in six points.

Santa Fe was led by Kayla Hererra with 16, but it was really the inside tandem of Sabrina Lozado-Cabbage with 14 points, and Jackie Martinez with 11, that made the difference.

“I told the girls if we win, that I would name the baby Champ,” said Vigil, who is seven months pregnant. “I guess we will save it for baby number two.”


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