Peñasco Lady Pan­thers try for a re­peat at North­ern Rio Grande Tour­na­ment

The Taos News - - SPORTS - By Sheila Miller [email protected]­news.com

The Peñasco Lady Pan­thers kicked off the 24th an­nual women’s North­ern Rio Grande tour­na­ment with two solid wins. Thurs­day ( Jan. 3), they dou­bled Es­calante’s score in a 62-31 win. Fri­day they beat Dulce 74-57, giv­ing them­selves the chance to de­fend their ti­tle in Satur­day’s cham­pi­onship game against the like-named Pe­cos Pan­thers at 6 p.m. in the Ben Lu­ján Gym at Po­joaque High School.

It did not go well for Peñasco.

The first quar­ter con­tained the seeds of the rest of the game. Peñasco, who usu­ally play with such con­trol, was bob­bling the ball within the first minute while Pe­cos was play­ing with steady de­ter­mi­na­tion. The first quar­ter ended 14-14, but it wasn’t Peñasco bas­ket­ball, with missed scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, lost re­bounds and three fouls by Carly Gon­za­les.

Gon­za­les sat out the sec­ond quar­ter. It showed. Though Bianca Con­tr­eras and Adri­anna Tafoya worked well to­gether, Peñasco strug­gled to get re­bounds and to cap­i­tal­ize on their of­fen­sive ef­forts. The teams went into the locker room with Pe­cos lead­ing 27-22. Both teams had 10 fouls in the first half. The sec­ond wasn’t any bet­ter.

The score gap widened to 9 points at the start of the third quar­ter, though the foul count for the two teams roughly kept pace. With Gon­za­les back on the court, Peñasco hauled them­selves back to even with seven unan­swered points within the first cou­ple min­utes.

It was a high ten­sion game and a loud crowd. Pe­cos brought their cheer­lead­ers, who con­trib­uted to the over­all ruckus in the gym­na­sium.

With just over five min­utes left in the third, Peñasco took back the lead, 31-30. The team stretched it out to 36-32, but Pe­cos di­aled them back in and was back on top 37-36 with just un­der two min­utes left in the quar­ter.

The Peñasco passes seemed to avoid Peñasco play­ers and the quar­ter ended 39-42.

A cou­ple min­utes into the fi­nal pe­riod, Peñasco re­gained their com­po­sure. They took their time es­tab­lish­ing con­trol of the ball and tied it up at 44, then squeezed out a nar­row 46-44 lead.

The Pe­cos coaches didn’t seem to feel that the of­fi­ci­at­ing was fair, one of them ex­claim­ing, “He’s hor­ri­ble – all three of them are hor­ri­ble!” af­ter a foul gave them two free throws.

Shortly there­after, Pe­cos team cap­tain Cas­san­dra Muller was sent to the bench by her fifth per­sonal foul of the game.

The Lady Pan­thers traded points un­til they were tied at

51 with 1:22 left. Pe­cos’s Brit­tney Martínez put up 3 points, mak­ing it

51-54 Pe­cos with 24.9 sec­onds to go. A point on a foul by Peñasco turned it into a

2-score game: 51-55 Pe­cos. Peñasco came back right away with 2 points, 19.9 sec­onds left.

A foul on Con­tr­eras, her fifth, gave Alexis Gon­za­les of Pe­cos two shots. She made them both: 53-57 with 5.2 sec­onds left.

Gon­za­les made one of two free throws in the fi­nal sec­onds for a fi­nal score of 54-57.

Peñasco Pan­thers play McCurdy Bob­cats at home at

6 p.m. Tues­day (Jan. 8) af­ter this sec­tion goes to press.

Sheila Miller/ The Taos News

Adri­anna Tafoya of the Peñasco Lady Pan­thers put the ball up for three dur­ing the third quar­ter of the North­ern Rio Grande Tour­na­ment fi­nal. Pe­cos took the first-place tro­phy with a fi­nal score of 57-54.

John T. Denne/For The Taos News

All eyes are on Peñasco Lady Pan­ther Adri­anna Tafoya as she fights for the ball in the fi­nal of the North­ern Rio Grande tour­na­ment Satur­day (Jan. 5) against Pe­cos in the Pan­ther vs. Pan­ther cham­pi­onship.

Sheila Miller/ The Taos News

The Peñasco Lady Pan­thers with their sec­ond-place tro­phy won in the North­ern Rio Grande Tour­na­ment Jan. 3-5.

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