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Girls State Basketball: Grants Topples Espanola

Grants, seeded fifth, defeated No. 4 Española Valley on Tuesday in the Pit and earned a shot at No. 1 Kirtland Central in the semifinals of the Class 4A girls basketball tournament.

The Broncos will meet Grants on Thursday. The other semifinal has No. 2 Roswell against No. 3 Gallup.

GRANTS 38, ESPAÑ‘OLA VALLEY 37: Freshman Teige Zeller banked in the game winner from under the basket with 11 seconds left as the fifth-seeded Pirates upset the No. 4 Sundevils.

Grants’ defense held Española Valley without a shot on its final possession.

The Sundevils’ Lauren Quintana drove the lane with just less than 5 seconds left, only to have the ball poked out from behind and land in the waiting arms of the Pirates’ Kalleen Shutiva as time expired.

That Grants even had a chance to take the lead was a bit of a surprise. With the Sundevils leading 37-36 and with possession of the ball just left of the top of the key, Quintana inexplicably fired off a 25-foot 3-point shot with roughly 30 seconds left. When it didn’t find its mark, the Pirates scooped up the rebound and pushed the ball to the other end of the floor for the eventual game-winning shot.

“I was thinking ‘bring it out, bring it out,’ ” Española Valley coach Ron Drake said of Quintana’s shot. “We didn’t need a shot there. But, they’re kids.”

Zeller, whose 6-foot-1 defensive presence in the middle forced Española Valley to keep the majority of its offense out of the paint, also led all scorers with 14 points. She pulled down eight rebounds, too, tying her with teammate Julie Gallegos for a game high.

KIRTLAND CENTRAL 47, VALENCIA 29: Broncos coach Kevin Holman put it best after his team “escaped” with an 18-point win over the Jaguars:

“It may not have been pretty, but we’re moving on.”

Kirtland Central (27-1) eventually cruised past upset-minded Valencia (20-10).

Kirtland Central shot a mere 15 percent from the floor in the first quarter and finished 0-for-16 from behind the 3-point stripe. Senior post Meghan Yazzie scored 12 of her game-high 19 points in the first half for the Broncos, single-handedly keeping Kirtland Central in the lead through the first 16 minutes. Yazzie alone outscored the Jaguars 10-7 with four minutes left in the second period. Her three-point play with a minute left in the first half ended an 8-0 run by the Jaguars and gave the Broncos a 16-15 lead they never relinquished.

At the half, Yazzie was 5-for-8 from the floor, while her teammates were a combined 3-for-27.

ROSWELL 63, ARTESIA 30: The No. 2–seeded Coyotes continued their march through the tournament with a convincing thumping of the 10th-seeded Bulldogs.

Roswell (26-3) has beaten Artesia (16-15) four straight times this season — each by more than 20 points — after losing their first meeting in early February.

The Coyotes, who have been renowned for racing to big leads early, found themselves tied at 10 with just more than a minute left in the first quarter. Then the Coyotes scored 20 of the next 22 points.

Shanice Steenholdt’s 23 points, on 10-of-13 shooting, paced the Coyotes.

— Dave Lepre

GALLUP 47, PIEDRA VISTA 38: The Bengals struggled early, but ramped up their defensive intensity and converted enough free throws down the stretch to hold off the pesky Panthers.

Piedra Vista jumped out to an 8-2 advantage in the first quarter, but Gallup rallied to take a 21-19 lead into intermission.

The Bengals threatened to put the game away early in the second half, using a 16-2 run to take their biggest lead at 37-23. Piedra Vista got as close 39-33 with two minutes remaining, but appeared to tire under the strain of Gallup’s full-court pressure.

Stacy Charley iced the game for Gallup by going 6-for-6 from the line in the last minute. Charley led the Bengals with 13 points and Justina Prairie Chief added 12 points and a team-high six rebounds. Kristyn Bates led Piedra Vista with 11 points.

“Just wearing them down over 32 minutes, that’s what we want to do,” said Gallup coach Kamau Turner.

— Tristen Critchfield

Photo Credit – dean hanson/journal
Cutline – Lauren Quintana of Española tries to keep the ball from Grants’ Kalleen Shutiva (22) and Teige Zeller (32).