Shiprock and Hope Christian played most impressively, and Lovington and Portales set up their fifth game of this season with Class 3A girls quarterfinal victories Tuesday at the Pit.
Portales won the first matchup with Lovington, but the Wildcats have won the last three games.
“There aren’t any secrets. They know us, we know them, have for years,” Portales coach Wade Fraze said. “We’re just going to have to go out and do what we do.”
No. 3 PORTALES 49, No. 6 SANDIA PREP 42: At the Pit, sophomore Kambrey Blakey scored 32 points as the Rams pulled away from the Sundevils in the second half of a girls 3A quarterfinal game.
The first half was rough for both teams, as Portales shot 16 percent (4-for-25) and Sandia Prep shot 14 percent (3-for-21) from the floor.
“Any time you come into the Pit, this building is intimidating for college men,” Fraze said. “We’ve been here before, but it’s the (quarterfinals) of the state tournament and I think for both teams that’s part of it. I believe we just settled down and did what we did best.”
Sandia Prep (19-10) pulled within 32-31 on a three-point play by Kalei Yepa with 7 minutes to go, but the Sundevils got no closer.
“I think they finally got their nerves under control for the second half,” Sandia Prep coach Angela Hartill said. “They really took advantage of their inside game and it was hard to stop. That’s how they were able to pull away.”
Blakey scored the next five points for Portales (23-5) on three free throws sandwiched around a layup off a steal.
“She’s done a good job all year,” Fraze said of Blakey. “She has a lot of God-given abilities. She’s taller but she’s mobile, too. This team is definitely not one-dimensional. We’ve had different people step up at different times this year.”
– Chris Jackson
No. 2 LOVINGTON 48, No. 7 ST. MICHAEL’S 32: At the Pit, the two-time defending champion Wildcats overcame a sluggish first half. Lovington (24-4) trailed 20-14 at the start of the third quarter before outscoring St. Michael’s (16-13) 15-3 in the period.
“We just had to fix our defense, and we changed up our offense a little bit,” Wildcats coach Jason Parrish said. “(But) it wasn’t really our defense and offense. We just weren’t playing. We got out-rebounded in the first half. We didn’t take care of the ball very well and for the first time all year we looked scared.”
The Wildcats tied the game at 20-20 on junior Tayler Valencia’s 3-pointer, then took the lead for good, 25-23, when her older sister, Talyssa Valencia, hit another 3-pointer.
Senior Jocelyn Jeffery scored the last four points of the quarter and led Lovington with 12 points, well below her regular-season average of 21. But her teammates made up the difference.
Tayler Valencia had 10 points, while Ryane Haley added eight points and six rebounds.
St. Michael’s was never able to find a third scorer to complement Alex Groenewold (seven points) and Cristiana Gabaldon (12 points).
“We had talked about getting a third person some looks,” Horsemen coach Martin Romero said. “That didn’t really materialize, either, and it had to because they paid too much attention to Alex and Cris. If we’d found that third or fourth scorer, you never know.”
– Chris Jackson
No. 4 HOPE CHRISTIAN 57, No. 5 WEST LAS VEGAS 40: Freshmen Alivia Lewis and Hanna Valencia keyed a second-half surge as the Huskies (22-7) cruised to a relatively easy win over the Dons (20-10).
Down 28-26 at halftime, Hope outscored West Las Vegas 31-12 in a lopsided second half. The Dons shot just 20 percent after halftime, with six points coming on a pair of 3-pointers in the final two minutes.
“Obviously (the Dons) were shooting the lights out. … Our defense was just not good enough,” Hope Christian coach Terry Heisey said.
While Lewis was consistent throughout the game, finishing with 19 points and six rebounds, Valencia scored all 12 of her points in the fourth quarter.
“I think I got more comfortable as the game went on,” the 14-year-old freshman guard said.
Once Hope built a small lead in the third, it spread the court on offense, making it difficult for West Las Vegas to apply pressure. At the forefront of that approach was Valencia, who consistently navigated through a maze of Dons defenders.
A 39-32 Hope lead at the end of the third ballooned to 13 within the first four minutes of the fourth. Hope eventually extended the margin to 20.
– Tristen Critchfield
NO. 1 SHIPROCK 59, NO. 8 ROBERTSON 32: At the Pit, the undefeated Chieftains recovered from an early deficit to beat the Cardinals behind 12 points from Tanisha Begay.
Using a five-player on, five-player off rotation, Shiprock (28-0) struck for 12 straight points to erase a 9-3 hole and it never was threatened thereafter.
Over the final 11 minutes before halftime, the Chieftains outscored Robertson 25-3.
The Cardinals (15-15) did not score a basket in the second quarter, missing all five of its shots from the field, scoring all three of its points from the foul line.
Taylor Henderson added 10 points for Shiprock.
No Robertson player reached double figures, with Chantel Sena scoring seven to lead the Cardinals’ attack.
The Chieftains turned in a complete effort, dishing out 19 assists on their 22 baskets. Lacey Howe and Shania Harry each had five.
Shiprock also went 7-of-13 on 3-pointers, while Robertson went 12-for-41 (29 percent) and Shiprock forced 28 turnovers.
– Glen Rosales
Class 3A Girls