4A/5A All-Star hoops game last hurrah for Dow, Sainz

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The Class 4A/5A Girls High School All-Star Basketball game was an intense one — and a pair of Valencia County seniors were in the middle of it all.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo

Valencia point guard Karina Dow and Belen post player Kristian Sainz play for the South team, which lost 85-84 in double overtime at West Mesa High School, finishing their high school playing careers in front of a raucous crowd on Friday, June 6.

Both players said they were grateful for the experience after the game.

“I’m glad this was able to be my last high school game, being an all-star game and not just a regular game or a playoff game,” Dow said. “Not a lot of seniors get to do this.”

Sainz, who scored a basket near the end fo the game to keep the North from taking a lead, agreed with Dow.

“It was an incredible feeling to get to score in this game,” Sainz said. “I’m just glad I got out there. I just gave my best. I didn’t think it was going to be as intense as it was. But I’m glad it was. It was exciting.”

Dow was named to the South squad back in March, while Sainz found out just two weeks before the game that she would be suiting up as an all-star.

“That was exciting, it was a really good moment,” she said of the phone call telling her she was on the South team. “It was a privilege to be named an all-star. (Tonight) I just wanted to give my best when I got in the game and give the team a spark.”

In addition to making the South squad, Dow was named to the starting line-up, playing as a shooting guard.

“It was cool,” she said. “It was good to know you’re out there, even if you perform well in the game, it’s nice to know that coaches, even after just a few days, know where you should be placed even in such a short time.”

The game came after a week of practices and events in Albuquerque, which gave both players a chance to make new friends and play with some of the states top players, including a pair of NCAA Division I prospects — Volcano Vista’s Hannah Fenske, who is going to play for Navy, and Mayfield’s DaeSheanna McCants, who is going to Texas-El Paso.

“It was a nice experience, playing different people and meeting a bunch of new girls,” Sainz said. “It was hard to adjust (on court) but it was a great experience. I’m going to miss playing as a high-schooler but I’m glad I was able to play in the all-star game, representing Belen.”

After the game, Dow said her days as a competitive basketball player are over as she plans to concentrate on her studies at either the University of New Mexico or Grand Canyon University. She said she plans to go on to medical school and become a trauma surgeon.

Sainz, who will be attending New Mexico Highlands University in the fall to study sign language, said she is considering walking on for the Cowgirls.