ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — St. Mike’s, Lovington Upset the Bracket Early
Upsets struck early at the Class 3A girls state basketball tournament as No. 1 seed Portales and two-time defending champion Pojoaque were eliminated in Tuesday’s quarterfinals at the Pit.
St. Michael’s toppled Portales and will face West Las Vegas at 8 a.m. Thursday in the Pit.
No. 6 Lovington stopped the Elkettes and will meet the winner of a late game between Hope Christian and Santa Fe Indian School at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in the Pit.
ST. MICHAEL’S 32, PORTALES 28: Jamie Velasquez scored 10 points and Tamara Quintana nine as ninth-seeded St. Michael’s (16-14) pulled the first major upset of the tournament.
The Rams (17-9) came into the game surrendering a state-low 26.8 points per game, but gave up 17 to the Lady Horsemen in the fourth quarter as St. Michael’s rallied to the win.
Portales led 8-6 at halftime and 18-15 after three quarters. The Lady Horsemen shot just 22 percent from the floor in the first half but were 7-for-14 in the second half, including 3-for-4 on 3-point tries.
“In the end we knew it was going to be a defensive battle,” St. Michael’s coach Martin Romero said. “We thought it would wind up being a 20-something to 20-something game.”
St. Michael’s trailed 15-6 with a little more than 4 minutes left in the third quarter. Then came the Lady Horsemen’s rally. Alexa Chavez completed a three-point play with 4:17 left in the third, followed by 3-pointers from Quintana and Monique Romero. With just less than 2 minutes left in the period, the Lady Horsemen had tied the score.
St. Michael’s took its first lead of the game since 2-0 off another Quintana 3, this time with 5:14 left in the fourth. Her long-distance shot came during an 11-0 Lady Horsemen run that proved too much for the Rams.
“There was never a doubt in my mind that we’d be able to compete,” Quintana said of her team’s performance. “We found it in us and fought and pulled off a big upset.”
“We just weren’t sharp today,” Portales coach Clay Stout said. “Give credit to St. Mike’s. They outplayed us today.”
LOVINGTON 61, POJOAQUE 50: Mystica Perez scored 35 points and Kenzie Black 20 for the Wildcats (25-5).
Lovington buried the Elkettes (19-11) under an avalanche of points in the first quarter, opening on a 21-2 run and taking a 23-5 lead into the second period.
Lovington shot 53 percent (12-for-23) from the floor in the first half, as opposed to Pojoaque’s 9 percent (2-for-22).
“We have the capability of being explosive,” said Lovington coach Rick Black. “When we shoot the ball well, we’re a good team.”
Pojoaque would eventually close to 10 points twice in the second half, but could never draw within single digits.
The Elkettes never found an answer for Perez, who opened the scoring with a 3-pointer and scored 12 points in the first quarter alone. The sophomore’s 35 points, most of which came off of breakaway layups after Pojoaque turnovers, are a career high.
“I was kind of nervous,” Perez said. “We all were kind of nervous coming into this game. We had to think of this game as a regular-season game and not think about them being back-to-back state champs. That’s what we did today.”
“She has the ability to finish in transition incredibly well,” Black said of Perez. “She got a lot of her points in run-outs. She’s got good perimeter defense and has the ability to get those run-outs.”
The Elkettes and Wildcats combined to commit 49 turnovers – 27 of which came from Pojoaque.
“You have to give credit to Lovington and how they came out with their defensive pressure,” Pojoaque coach Lanse Carter said. “I thought they were smart with it, they rattled us and we didn’t execute our press-breaker with composure.”
— David Lepre Jr.
WEST LAS VEGAS 67, THOREAU 50: Senior Linda Esquibel led four Lady Dons in double figures with 20 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
West Las Vegas (27-4) never trailed in the second half thanks to a 15-2 run in the third quarter. Thoreau (19-7) turned the ball over 35 times and shot just 32 percent in the final two quarters.
Justine Miller led the Hawks with 11 points.