For the first time all season, Volcano Vista had to make clutch plays in the fourth quarter.
The Hawks (12-0) responded to their most serious threat in a dozen games, and advanced to the 5A girls state finals for the second straight season turning back Eldorado, 56-44, at Volcano Vista High School on Thursday night.
“Eldorado fought hard and gave us a little bit of adversity, which was the first time all season,” said Volcano Vista coach Lisa Villareal. “And our girls persevered. It was good they were able to relax (in the fourth quarter).”
Eldorado (7-3) was nearly run out of the gym in the first quarter, falling behind 25-6 as the Hawks forced 11 first-quarter turnovers on the strength of their full-court press.
Jaelyn Bates hit three of her six 3s in the first quarter on her way to a game-high 24 points, and Natalia Chavez added two three balls and eight points in the opening salvo.
The lead grew to 36-12 midway through the second quarter as Bates sandwiched two 3s around a Chavez 3-pointer.
It was at that point, the Golden Eagles started to turn things around.
“We haven’t seen a press like that all year, and that’s a well-coached ballclub,” said Eldorado coach Leroy Barela “Lisa (Villareal) does a great job, and those kids are phenomenal. They execute better than most, and that first half was an example. Once we felt that pressure and understood it, then we were able to maintain and sustain.”
Eldorado closed the first half on a 13-3 run with Andrea Ellis hitting a 3 with a minute left in the half, and Maria Barela completing a traditional three-point play with 15.1 seconds remaining to make it 39-25 at intermission.
The Golden Eagles’ comeback picked up steam in the final three minutes of the third quarter.
Hayley Valencia scored on a driving layup, and Barela hit back-to-back 3s in the final 40 seconds – the latter a banker with three seconds left – closing the Hawks lead to 42-38.
“We’re not afraid to run (with Volcano Vista), but we had to slow the game down in our heads to get what we want,” Barela said. “We started finding the shots we wanted, and it got better for us.”
Eldorado had two opportunities in the opening minute of the fourth quarter to pare the Hawks’ lead.
Valencia was unable to convert an inside shot on her team’s opening possession of the fourth, and then the Eagles missed a pair of free throws following a defensive stop on the next possession.
Bates, meanwhile, helped her team reclaim the momentum for good. Coming off a screen, she drained a 3 and was fouled on the play. She then hit the free throw as the Hawks extended their lead to 46-38.
“It was huge,” Villareal said of Bates’ shot. “It was a big play. We needed her to come up big, and she did.”
One possession later, Bates scoring on a driving bucket, and the Volcano Vista lead was again double digits.
Chavez added 16 points for Volcano Vista, which meets Hobbs Saturday afternoon at the Pit in a rematch of last year’s state final.
Barela led Eldorado with 18 points.
NO. 2 VOLCANO VISTA 56, NO. 3 ELDORADO 44
Eldorado (7-3): Andrea Ellis 2 3-3-9, Ella Dion 1 2-4-4, Hayley Valencia 1 1-6-3, Kiera McFarland 0 0-0-0, Jayden Jefferson 1 0-2-2, Cece Barela 6 1-1-18, Jaylen Jefferson 2 1-2-5, Talisa Natoni 1 0-0-3. Totals: 14 8-18-44
Volcano Vista (12-0): Kennedy Brown 1 0-0-2, Mari Manzaneres 1 0-0-2, Jaelyn Bates 7 4-5-24, Savannah McGuire 0 4-4-4, Giannah Aragon 0 0-0-0, Natalia Chavez 5 2-2-16, Taejhuan Hill 3 0-0-6, Angelyn Aranda 1 0-1-2 . Totals: 18 10-12-56
Eldorado 6 19 13 6–44
V. Vista 25 14 3 14–56
3-point goals: E 8 ( Barela 5, Ellis 2, Natoni); VV 10 (Bates 6, Chavez 4). Rebounds: E 16 (Jaylen Jefferson 6). VV 30 ( Hill 10). Steals: E 3 (Barela 2) VV 10 (Brown 4). Team fouls: E 13, VV 18. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: VV Brown. Turnovers: E 17, VV 12.
CLASS 1A GIRLS
No. 1 ROY/MOSQUERO 44, No. 3 MELROSE 38: For a brief moment to start the third quarter, the basket at the Pit stopped looking like a pinhole to Melrose, and in quick succession, the Buffaloes dropped in four 3-pointers.
It was part of an 18-3 run dating back to the end of the first half and propelled No. 3 Melrose to a 26-22 lead over top-seeded Roy/Mosquero.
And just that quickly, the basket shrunk again, and the Blue began to hit from the line, going 16-of-22 on foul shots over the final 10 minutes to earn the Class 1A girls state championship.
It’s the first championship for either Roy or Mosquero since Roy won in 1998. The schools these days use a combined roster because neither has enough players to field a team of its own
“That was my Aunt Jenny’s team,” Riley Clavel said of her aunt and assistant coach Jenny (Garcia) Hazen. “It brings a little nostalgia. And she is one of our assistants this year so it was really special for me. My mom has some (state championships), too. That’s all I wanted, ever. With her being an assistant, my dad as head coach, this being my senior year, I can’t describe it.”
Although neither team was shooting particularly well through the first half, Blue (15-0) held a comfortable 19-11 lead at halftime.
But Isabel Sena hit two 3-pointers, Johanna Roybal hit one, and Graci Odom sank one with two minutes left in the third quarter to put the Buffaloes (12-2) up 26-22.
Finding success at the foul line, Roy/Mosquero came back to tie it at 33-all midway through the fourth quarter on a Tanna Crisp put back. She finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Blue expanded its lead, working from the foul line, hitting 10 straight in a 10-2 run that sealed the game.
“Free throws win games,” said Clavel, who finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and four steals. “We made them down the stretch when it mattered, and that was a big difference in the game.”
Although Roy/Mosquero did its best to take out opposing star Hailey Martin, she still finished with 16 and 13 rebounds, including seven points and four boards in the fourth quarter.
“It was my last game and I have to put all I can into it,” Martin said.
It wasn’t enough as Melrose, which won it last year and reached the championship game the previous three seasons, simply could not make shots, finishing 6-27 on 3-pointers and 7-33 inside the arc.
“We just couldn’t make shots,” said Buffaloes coach Caleb King. “We haven’t shot that bad all year.”
No. 1 ROY/MOSQUERO 44 No. 3 MOSQUERO 38
Melrose 6 5 17 10 — 38
Roy/Mosquero 8 11 7 18 — 44
MELROSE (12-2): Hailey Martin 5-15 6-10 16; Johanna Roybal 2-11 0-0 6; Graci Odom 3-14 0-0 8; Isabelle Sena 2-10 0-0 6; Anjalina Sanchez1-9 0-0 2.; Kye Ward 0-1 0-0 0; Rylee Roberts 0-0 0-0 0; Sorrel Allen 0-0 0-0 0; Paityn Nicholson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 13-60 6-10
ROY/MOSQUERO (15-0): Arantza Covarubius 1-7 4-5 6; Tanna Crisp 3-6 8-16 14; Riley Clavel 5-17 6-8 19; Sydney Turner 1-4 0-1 3; Natalie Smith 1-4 0-0 2; Nora Crisp 0-0 0-0 0 Josie Esquibel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-38 18-30 44.
3-point FGs: M 6-27 (Roybal 2-9, Odom 2-4, Sena 2-7, Sanchez 0-3, Martin 0-4); R/M 4-9 (Clavel 3-7, Turner 1-2). Rebounds: M 42 (Martin 13); R/M 35 (T. Crisp 14). Assists: M 11 (Sanchez 5); R/M 6 (Clavel 2). Steals: M 2 (Sanchez, Nicholson); R/M 8 (Clavel 4). Turnovers: M 13; R/M 11. Total fouls: M 19; R/M 10. Fouled out: none.
Class 5A GIRLS (with bracket)