Jag girls top Tigers in OT

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In a possible preview of the upcoming district girls basketball battles, the Valencia girls basketball team beat cross-town rivals Los Lunas girls 42-36 in overtime in the championship of the Alamogordo VFW Invitational on Saturday.

“We were strong in the first and third quarters of all three games,” said acting VHS coach Manuel Vigil. “Most of our scoring came off of our defense.”

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: VALENCIA’s KARINA DOW (2), shown here against Moriarty, earned All-tournament team honors in leading the Jaguar girls to the Alamogordo VFW Invitational tournament title.

Valencia held a 9-7 lead after the first quarter Saturday night against Los Lunas. But the Jaguars got into foul trouble in the second quarter.

With starting seniors Karina Dow and Brenda Baeza sitting for much of the period, Los Lunas went on a 17-9 run fueled largely by the free throw shooting of senior post Teige Zeller, who scored 17 of her game-high 20 points in the first half — mostly from the free throw line.

Down 24-18 halftime deficit, the Jaguars battled back from a holding the Tigers to just two points in the third quarter and scoreless in the overtime as Los Lunas played without Zeller, who fouled out late in the fourth quarter.

“The big thing was we only scored two points in the third quarter,” said Los Lunas coach Marty Zeller. “That hurt us. It was a defensive battle in the third.”

Just before Zeller fouled out in the fourth quarter, LLHS took a 32-29 lead on a 3-pointer by junior Sanae Gaerlan. But with Zeller riding the pine, the Jaguars made their move

Valencia senior Karina Dow escaped the Tiger defense on the next possession and hit a game-tying trey with under a minute left to tie the game at 32-32. Los Lunas missed a pair of game-winners in the closing seconds and the game went to overtime.

“We were subbing in guards on defense and our bigs on defense and that seemed to give them a hard time (down the stretch),” Vigil said.

In overtime, the Jags out-scored the Tigers 6-0 as LLHS could not find the basket.

“It was our lack of execution in the fourth quarter that did us in,” said Coach Zeller. “But I think this (loss) is really a blessing in disguise.”

Dow, who lead the Jags with 13 points against Los Lunas, was named to the all-tournament team along with freshman guard Lorien Aragon and senior Miranda Chavez. Teige Zeller and Jordan Holland made the all-tourney team for the Tigers.

In tournament play, Valencia had the easier route to the title game, beating El Paso Chapin (6-14) in the opening round 56-17 on Friday night before facing host Alamogordo (5-7) in the semifinal Saturday morning and beating the Lady Tigers 65-25.

Dow led the Jags in scoring for both games, scoring 19 in each game. Raeanne Herrera scored 10 against Alamogordo and seven versus Chapin.

Los Lunas beat up future district foes Santa Teresa 58-23 in Friday’s opening round before playing a tough game against Carlsbad Saturday morning.

Zeller scored 19 against the Desert Warriors Friday with Holland and Cera Chavez coming in off the bench to score 11 and 15 points, respectively. Zeller finished with a game high 27 against the Lady Cavemen Saturday afternoon.

Valencia (10-1), who remained at No. 3 in this week’s MaxPreps Class 4A poll, next hosts Santa Fe St. Michaels Friday night and Bernalillo Tuesday night.

Los Lunas (5-3), which fell to No. 8 this week, hosts Santa Fe Indian School Tuesday.

The No. 10 Belen girls (5-2) were idle over the Christmas holiday and hosts Los Alamos Saturday night.