The boys and girls Tigers basketball teams both improved their records in dual wins against the Pecos Panthers on Tuesday (Jan. 11).
Prior to the matchup, the girls had won five out of their last seven games.
Their previous opponent, the Capital Jaguars, were able to compete with them in the first half. The Jaguars were down 22-23 late in the second quarter when Isabel Herrera had her shot attempt blocked, but it happened to land back in her hands and she made the contested jump shot, and then got the foul call. The Lady Tigers got the rebound off the missed free throw, which led to an open baseline jump shot for Tatiana Flores. The score was 27-22 in favor of the Lady Tigers and they’d go on to win by 25 points, 58-33.
It was a similar scenario against the Pecos Panthers on Tuesday.
Kionamua Ely won the tip off, which led to a quick pass to the cutting Dahnyell Martinez. This would be emblematic of how incisive the Lady Tigers offense would be for the rest of the game.
The efforts of Natalia Stout and Savanah Ortiz kept the Panthers uncomfortably close for big portions of the first half. Stout couldn’t miss from deep, whether it was a catch-and-shoot or an off-the-dribble shot. Two of her four three pointers were banked in. Ortiz provided grit and energy. Kristina Ragland even sacrificed her body diving to keep a ball inbounds as she landed harshly against the bleachers.
Even with the tough-minded approach, the Lady Tigers kept dissecting their defense. Madelynn Quintana, in her first home game since St. Michael’s on Dec. 2, coming back off of an injury, adds another dimension to the offense as a willing and capable shooter.
On one possession she drove it from the baseline and made a difficult shot through contact.
Marika Moyer got a steal from the Lady Tigers side of the court and coolly took it coast to coast for a layup. On their next offensive possession Ely had a one-on-one opportunity in the paint and went with the strong post move for an easy two points. This forced the Pecos coach to call a timeout. The dynamic of the game did not change. At half time the Lady Tigers were up 33-20.
In the second half, if Shaylee Mirabal didn’t abuse the Panthers in the paint, someone was invariably open for a mid-range jump shot that would often go in. Dahnyell Martinez continued to be a menace on defense, covering almost every square foot of the basketball court. The score ballooned to 56-26 by the end of the final whistle. The Lady Tigers are now 8-6 for the season.
The boys basketball team is probably perplexed as to exactly what happened in the second half versus Pecos. It almost had the makings of an incredible collapse. But, a timely Anthony Padilla 3-pointer with under two minutes to go in the fourth quarter put the game out of reach for the Panthers.
The Tigers had an explosive first quarter in which they scored 29 points. The early 3-pointers from Jodaiah Padilla were no match for the scoring combination of Isiah Jeantete and A. Padilla, who scored the first eight points for the Tigers and orchestrated the whole offense beautifully.
Then it seemed like the Tigers could simply rely on their post game to comfortably maintain the lead. Coach Hernando loudly pointed out a mismatch and seven seconds later the ball worked its way around to Daemon Ely, who shot a jump hook for the bucket. Everything was going the Tigers' way. Ely got an emphatic block on one of the Panthers and then pulled an Allen Iverson move, by immediately stepping over the fallen Panther, the same way Allen did over Tyronn Lue in the 2001 NBA Finals versus the Lakers. Ely even hit a rare 3-pointer. Perhaps it was a bad sign that he was spending more time on the perimeter than near the rim. The Tigers were up 40-21 at halftime.
Matthew Mondragon carried the offense in the third quarter. He made a reverse spin move on his defender to create space and then hit a running baseline floater. He hit a layup in traffic and then an open 3-pointer. Aside from him the offense went into a major lull in the second half. Even with the tepid offense, the Panthers had their work cut out for them as they were down 15.
The Panthers relied on center Isaiah Sandoval playing more like a guard against the centers of Taos. He’d either take and make shots far away from the rim or use his handle to penetrate and create easy points for team mates. Malik Barrens intercepted the passing lanes repeatedly to cut the lead to six with little over three minutes left to go. At the 2:51 mark the Panthers barely missed an uncontested 3-pointer. Had it gone in it would have become a one possession game and changed the complexity of the final minutes.
Instead, the Tigers pulled away to win it 57-48, giving them a record of 11-4 for the season.