Peñasco downs Escalante at home in critical district match

Matthew Narvaiz
Posted 2/16/20

When Peñasco and Escalante faced off on Saturday (Feb. 15) in Peñasco, it was a game that was meant to have some questions answered.

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Peñasco downs Escalante at home in critical district match


When Peñasco and Escalante faced off on Saturday (Feb. 15) in Peñasco, it was a game that was meant to have some questions answered.

And they were.

The Lady Panthers (22-2, 7-1 District 5-2A), who dropped the first district meeting between the two teams on Thursday (Jan. 30), found themselves down early in Saturday's rematch but used a combination of a damning zone defense and a willful offense to get past the Lady Lobos, 64-60.

The loss for the Lady Lobos (15-7, 8-1) was their first in District 5-2A action this season. For Peñasco, who is already the No. 1 team in the state according to MaxPreps, the win proved to them that they can keep up with the pace of a closely contested game, something they'll see more of come the state tournament.

"This was for Jennifer Aguilar. We played together today," senior post Carly Gonzales said. "We all wanted it."

While on paper the game seemed to be a matchup of the two best teams in the district - because it was - it was the first time the two teams have seen each other in the two weeks since Aguilar, a senior guard on Peñasco, was injured by players on the opposing team.

Those injuries - three fractured bones in her orbital and sinus, a brain injury and concussion - sent Aguilar to the hospital and forced an emotional Montoya to call her team's game.

This time around, though, the physicality was there - but not to the extent of a player getting injured.

Early on, the Lady Lobos used a 12-0 run to jump out to a 16-5 lead. But the Lady Panthers scored seven unanswered points to close out the first quarter, and found themselves down by just four points.

Gonzales got hot in the second quarter for Peñasco and scored nine of her team's first 11 points and added a total of 14 in the frame. On one occasion, tied at 21 points, Gonzales took the basketball the length of the court for a layup - which made the crowd erupt, and to which Montoya cheerfully screamed as the opposing bench called a timeout.

While the Lady Panthers kept up their offensive prowess, so did Escalante. But when Martina Tafoya, a sophomore guard, hit a 3-pointer for Peñasco to put them up 42-40, the momentum started to shift.

The fourth quarter was all Peñasco at the start - and they even got out to a 54-44 lead early on - but Escalante played with heart. To bring her team within a point, 58-57, senior Savana Martinez made a layup to the cheers of many traveling Escalante fans.

However, Gonzales was able to make a shot shortly after off an assist from senior guard Alexandria Sandoval and Martina Tafoya closed out the game with two made free throws.

Gonzales led all scorers with 32 points, her fifth game of 30 points or more this season. She also had 15 rebounds, and averaged a double-double during a majority of the season's games.

Adrianna Tafoya, who led many of the fast breaks for Peñasco on Saturday, had seven steals and scored nine points in the process. Martina Tafoya finished with 11 points and had made two 3-pointers in the game. Sandoval finished with 10 assists.

When asked how a game like this helps her team come the state tournament, Montoya said it is needed to happen for preparation's sake.

"We need to have games like that to prepare us for state," Montoya said. "Sometimes you don't get anything out of blowing out teams by 30 [points]. Sometimes you need a grind-it-out game and today was that."

The two teams have a good chance of meeting again, too. If both squads win out, they will meet at a neutral site to determine the regular season district winner.

Montoya said that her team is in a good place mentally and physically as the season comes to a close.

"We haven't peaked yet," Montoya said with a laugh. "We're playing some good basketball. We went through some adversity with the last [Escalante] game. But like I told the girls, adversity builds character. And it builds great teams. There's no such thing as a perfect season. We rebounded from it. Jennifer didn't stay on that floor and we didn't stay on that floor. So now we get a chance to show what we are made of."

2K point club

Carly Gonzales, who has been playing varsity basketball since the eighth grade, surpassed the 2,000 point mark in her career.

Montoya said that she couldn't find Gonzales' eighth-grade stats, so she had already surpassed it earlier this season. Still, though, it was a big accomplishment.

Here's Gonzales on the moment: "I couldn't have done this without my teammates. This is a team reward that we've all earned. … I feel really honored. Putting in hard work during the summers, it really reminded me that it paid off in the end."


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