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.
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.
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