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Friday's Girls Prep Hoops Roundup

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Cibola's Slide Continues; Surprising Rio Grande Keeps Rolling

Girls -- Friday, Feb. 8 results

One night after an emotional win against powerhouse
Gallup, the Cougars came crashing back down to earth.

West Mesa claimed its second 1-5A win of the season
Friday night, upsetting the second-ranked Cibola
42-37 on the Cougars' home floor.

The Mustangs improve to 9-13 on the season,
but more importantly draw even with Cibola with
a 2-3 district 1-5A record.

"I wish we could play this way every game," said
West Mesa coach Brett Jones. "I'm just kind of
speechless right now. I'm so proud of our effort."

After a Zalika Dyson putback with 4:30 left in the
second quarter, Cibola led 18-11 -- it's biggest lead
of the game. The two teams went on to exchange
the lead nine times the rest of the way.

Two consecutive Shanika Ricks' baseline jumpers
gave the Mustangs a 37-33 lead with 2:50 left in
the fourth quarter. That lead grew to 41-35 after a
pair of Angelique Arias free-throws with 30 seconds
left. The Cougars had three possessions in those
final 30 seconds, but could only muster an Elyse
Brewster bucket with 15 seconds left.

That three of those losses have come while Cibola
is without the services of star guard Skye Barnett is
of little consolation to coach Lori Stephenson.

"We had a magical moment last night (against
Gallup), but really struggled with our mental focus
tonight," said Stephenson. "Where as everything
seemed to come together last night, we rally didn't
play with any sense of urgency tonight."

"This win was huge for us," said Latisha Adams,
who led the Mustangs with 18 points. "It shows
the win against Gallup wasn't a fluke."

West Mesa beat the sixth-ranked Bengals last
Thursday for their first district win this season.

Adams attributed the win to the Mustangs' defensive
effort. "We really wanted to play our best defense
of the season tonight," said Adams. "I know I was
trying to play as hard as I could and it seemed the
rest of the team really fed off of that.

"When we play together and play defense like that,
we can be really tough to beat."

West Mesa held the Cougars to only six points in
the fourth quarter.

Amber Battle and Taylor Williams led Cibola with
10 points each.

-David Lepre Jr.

The Rio Grande High School girls basketball team
went from underdog to top dog in about 72 hours.

The Ravens picked up their third District 5-5A win of
the week on Friday night, defeating Los Lunas at Rio

The victory came on the heels of the Ravens' 64-61
upset of third-ranked Eldorado on Tuesday night and
their 48-46 win at Manzano on Wednesday.

Including last week's win over ninth-ranked Highland,
the Ravens (14-8 overall) have now beaten every team
in the league once. Their 4-1 mark gives them sole
possession of the lead in the district standings. Eldorado
(3-1) sits a half-game back.

"Right now, we're just riding the wave, enjoying the
journey," said Raven coach Rick Espinoza.

Rio Grande may finally be starting to turn some
heads, but the Ravens weren't on many radars
earlier in the season. They entered district play
with a flash-free 10-7 record and promptly lost their
league opener to Los Lunas.

Even in the most recent Journal coaches' poll, Rio
Grande failed to crack the Class 5A top 10.

"We feel like we're a little underestimated when we
play Eldorado, and in all our district games, but it
benefits us," said Rio Grande senior Giovanna
Jaramillo, adding that the Ravens like to be the

But it's going to be hard to look past Rio Grande

"I've been telling (the girls) that the time to peak as
individuals and as a team is district, and that's what
they've done. I can't ask for any more from them,"
Espinoza said.

Despite playing their third game in just more than three
days, the Ravens pounced on Los Lunas immediately.

Rio Grande shot 60 percent from the floor in the first
quarter as it burst out to a 16-1 lead.

"You saw that first quarter Í you can't get any better than
that," said Espinoza, whose team held Los Lunas to
0-for-10 from the field in the period.

In addition to their hot shooting and strong defense, the
Ravens out-rebounded the taller Tigers 10-2 in the initial
quarter. Although Los Lunas finished with a 33-27 edge on
the glass, Espinoza said his girls played fearlessly.

"We're been smaller than everybody else, but we've got
big hearts. We've got 6-foot-5, 6-foot-7 hearts. All the
girls play big," the coach said.

Going to a zone defense, Los Lunas was able to slow
down the game and cut the lead to 10 points late in the
first half, but the deficit doubled in the third period.

Los Lunas forced the hosts into eight fourth-quarter
turnovers to narrow the divide late, but the final margin
of nine points was as close as the game had been since
the first quarter.

Sophomore forward Monique Macias had a game-high
16 points for Rio Grande, including four of the Ravens'
five 3-pointers. Bernadette Sanchez contributed nine

Los Lunas' Candice Guthrie led the Tigers with 15 points.

Jaramillo, who had seven points in the win, said Rio
Grande is doing just about everything right at this point
in the season.

"We have an all-around good team," she said. "That's
what's keeping us up in our district."

-Jessica Dyer


In Santa Fe, for Johnny Abeyta, Santa Fe Indian
School's 17-0 start seems like a distant memory.

But after getting its second District 2-3A win to end a
three-game skid, the Lady Braves coach said his squad
is finally starting to get its swaggger back.

"We're starting to regain the confidence that we had
coming into the district season," he said. "This was the
second step."

April Abeyta posted 19 points and Marcelita Povijua had
12 to lead the Lady Braves (18-3, 2-4) to a 52-47 win
over visiting West Las Vegas (10-11, 2-4) on Friday at
Francis Abeyta Gymnasium.

After trailing by as many as seven points in the third
quarter, the Lady Braves took control in the fourth, holding
the Lady Dons scoreless until the final two minutes while
mounting a 7-0 run. WLV would hit just one of seven
shots in the final period.

"I give Indian School credit -- they played hard and
scrappy like they always do, and they forced us into
turnovers and some bad decisions," said WLV coach
Jose Medina about the team's nine fourth-quarter
turnovers. "Possessions were very important in the fourth
quarter, and we panicked."

The Lady Dons finished with three players in double
figures. Karla Gallegos led the team with 14 points,
followed by Linda Esquibel and Kristen Encinias with 12
points each.

Gallegos' 13-p oint first-half performance was only matched
by Abeyta, who posted nine points alone in the second
quarter to give SFIS a 30-26 lead at the intermission.

The Lady Braves led by as many as eight points through
the first two periods, but during much of that time it was
anyone's ballgame.

The initial period alone had six lead changes, with the Lady
Dons emerging with a 12-11 advantage. But after the 10th
lead change of the half at the 4:54 mark, the Lady Braves
went on an 12-4 run to take a 29-21 lead. However, the
momentum did not carry over into the second half.

The Lady Dons opened the third period with 10 unanswered
points and took their largest lead of the contest, 44-37, at
the 1:11 mark. But SFIS would score the final four points of
the quarter, while holding the Lady Dons scoreless for the
following six minutes, 32 seconds.

The Lady Braves finished the contest hitting 15 of 35
from the field against 18-of-38 shooting for the Lady Dons.

Now, Abeyta said his team is ready for their rematch
versus lass 3A's top-ranked squad, Pojoaque Valley.

"We're looking forward to our date with Pojoaque. They
took something from us," he said. "... We were undefeated
until we played them, and they took that from us. The road
has been good to us -- we're 16-0 -- so we're confident we
can pay with them."

SFIS travels to Ben Lujan Gym on Thursday while WLV
plays host to Raton.

-Vince Kong