Hope Christian had to battle.
That was the tale of the tape in Thursday’s Class 4A girls semifinals at the Pit as the Chieftains cruised past Santa Fe Indian School and the Huskies upset top-seeded Portales.
Hope and Shiprock will meet in the final at the Pit today at 3:30 p.m.
No. 5 HOPE CHRISTIAN 35, No. 1 PORTALES 34: Junior Hanna Valencia made three of four free throws in the final 41 seconds to give the Huskies (21-9) a stunning victory over the Rams (24-4).
“That last minute I knew that I needed to get to the foul line,” said Valencia, who led Hope with 12 points. “And so I knew I needed to attack the basket. I drew a lot of girls where I could either pass it out or get a foul. I got the foul and was able to make my free throws.”
The game was a rematch of last season’s final, also won by Hope. The Huskies extended their winning streak to 17 games as they advanced to defend their title.
“We knew that both teams were very strong, and it was going to come down to probably who could hit the most free throws and who played the best defense,” Hope coach Terry Heisey said.
Before a final rally in the fourth quarter, Hope’s only lead was 3-2. Trailing 31-25 with 5 minutes left, Valencia hit two free throws and junior post Alivia Lewis converted a three-point play to suddenly pull the Huskies within one point.
Portales’ Bailey Rowley and Hope’s Destiny Holien then traded baskets before the game went to the free-throw line.
Rams senior post Kambrey Blakey, who led all players with 16 points, missed two free throws with 1:31 remaining. Portales got the offensive rebound after Blakey’s miss but was whistled for a five-second violation.
Holien and Rams senior Sheraya Cox both missed shots before Valencia drew a foul and made two free throws with 41 seconds left for a 34-33 lead. Lewis then fouled out on the other end, sending sophomore Zamorye Cox to the line with 10.9 seconds to go. Cox hit one of two free throws to tie the game.
On Hope’s final play, Valencia drove inside and drew a foul from Sheraya Cox. Valencia made one of two free throws to put her team ahead for good.
Portales overthrew the inbounds pass, and Blakey never got a shot off as the buzzer sounded.
Lewis, who was celebrating her birthday, finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
“By far this is the best (present), without a doubt,” she said.
No. 5 HOPE CHRISTIAN 35, No. 1 PORTALES 34
HOPE CHRISTIAN (21-9) Charity Murphy 8, Alivia Lewis 11, Christine Heisey 2, Destiny Holien 2, Hanna Valencia 12. Totals 11-FG 10-17-FT 35.
PORTALES (24-4) Zamorye Cox 3, Bailey Rowley 6, Sheraya Cox 2, Kambrey Blakey 16, Sky Marianito 4, Kaycee Stone 3. Totals 10-FG 11-19 FT 34.
Hope 6 10 7 12—35
Portales 6 15 6 7—34
3-Point FG: HC 3 (Murphy 2, Valencia); P 3 (Blakey 2, Stone). Total Fouls: HC 16, P 16. Fouled Out: HC, Lewis.
No. 2 SHIPROCK 58, No. 6 SANTA FE INDIAN 23: The Chieftains (30-3) showed no mercy against the Braves (20-11), building up a 35-4 lead in the second quarter before going into cruise control.
“I told the girls, if we could continue to play structured basketball and clamp down especially on the defense (we would win),” Shiprock coach Larenson Henderson said. “They did an excellent job clamping down on the defense.”
SFIS had no answers for that defense, which made 20 steals and forced 24 turnovers overall. The Braves shot just 26 percent (9-for-34) for the game as well.
“Ultimately, we weren’t prepared,” SFIS coach Christie Abeyta said. “We weren’t prepared in the sense we thought we were.”
Senior Shontai Grey led the Chieftains with 14 points and nine rebounds. Seven other players scored at least four points apiece for Shiprock.
“I was surprised because usually we struggle in the beginning and usually have a slow start,” Grey said. “But I guess (we are) capable of this.”
Senior RanDee Tafoya led the Braves with nine points.
No. 2 SHIPROCK 58, No. 6 SANTE FE INDIAN 23
SFIS (20-11) Harmony Yazzie 2, Alliyah Coriz 5, RanDee Tafoya 9, Megan Lewis 2, Milan Schimmel 5. Totals 9-FG 3-9-FT 23.
SHIPROCK (30-3) Kylie McKinley 4, Melanie Secody 6, Paige Dale 8, Tanisha Begay 9, Alyssa Harvey 7, Tia Woods 4, Shontai Grey 14, Keishonna Begay 6. Totals 22-FG 11-14-FT 58.
SFIS 4 6 7 6—23
Shiprock 25 15 14 4—58
3-Point FG: SF 2 (Coriz, Schimmel); S 3 (T Begay, Dale, Harvey). Team Fouls: SF 10, S 9. Fouled Out: None.