SANTA FE, N.M. — Elmer Chavez down played any internal issues his squad may have had after last weekend’s debacle in the District 2-4A title game.
The problem with his Santa Fe Demonettes, he said, is a problem many coaches would actually welcome: too much talent and just one basketball. So Friday, in opening-round action of the Class 4A state tournament at the Toby Roybal Memorial Gymnasium, the Demonettes remedied that situation by simply scoring more points. No. 3 Santa Fe (24-3) opened the contest on a 9-0 run and never looked back – topping No. 13 Kirtland Central, 62-38, to advance to the state quarterfinals at the Pit.
“All teams go through problems – especially with girls; there’s drama all the time,” he said. “But the good teams work it out and are ready to play – and I thought we played great.”
Nine of 12 Santa Fe players recorded a basket, led by Jackie Martinez with 19 points, and Kayla Herrera with 15. And Martinez, who was the most vocal Demonette after last weekend’s loss to Española Valley, said perhaps the timing of the dust-up was a good thing.
“After the Española game, we got together and talked,” she said. “All the turmoil that we had came out and I’m glad we dealt with it.
“Turmoil is healthy as long as you’re able to come back from it as a team – and I think we did. Tonight, everyone touched the ball. We passed like a team, and when one person got down, we picked each other up.
“… I said (after the Española Valley loss) that only teams that play as a team deserve to go to state. Right now, I think we proved that we deserve it.”
Martinez posted eight opening-half point to help Santa Fe build a 22-14 lead at the intermission, before the Demonettes broke the game wide open in the third period.
Herrera scored nine of her points during an 11-0 run, which stopped a Bronco surge after the visiting squad cut their deficit to 22-18 in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Kirtland Central would not threaten again, and – by the final buzzer – the Demonettes led by as many 25 points, en route to their first trip to the Pit since 1997 under then-coach Ron Drake, who is now the coach at Pojoaque Valley.
When Herrera was asked what she thought the key was behind her team’s inspired play, she reiterated the theme of the night.
“We played as a team,” she said. “It took us a few practices to get over what we did wrong against Española. But once we started to focus on Kirtland, we got out of that mindset.”
Santa Fe finished the game 22 of 57 from the field, against 14-of-33 shooting for Kirtland Central. The Demonettes also out-rebounded the visiting squad, 39-15, including a 19-2 advantage in offensive rebounds. Sophomore post Sabrina Lozada-Cabbage paced Santa Fe with 11 rebounds. She also had seven points. Martinez and Herrera each finished with eight.
Santa Fe will face No. 6 Valencia at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday.