They made a statement against District 2AAAA rival Española Valley on Tuesday, and improved to 17-0 with a 64-57 win in Toby Roybal Memorial Gymnasium.
Santa Fe High might have even been giving the doubters a show during the first half.
The Demonettes were cool, calm and focused as they walked onto the court to face down the toughest team they’ve played this season. Both teams are bursting with talent and, unlike many other girls teams in Northern New Mexico, boast two of the healthiest lineups.
This was the first of two big tests for the Demonettes in a week’s span.
First came the Lady Sundevils. After a road trip to Los Alamos on Friday, they play Class AAA’s Santa Fe Indian School on Jan. 29. Santa Fe High took advantage of an Española team that came out jittery that couldn’t hit wide-open shots and took a 34-23 halftime lead.
The Lady Sundevils battled their way back in the second half, and two key turnovers along with fouls helped Española (15-4) make it a one-possession game at 58-55 with 55.7 seconds left.
“We kind of got antsy, got too much in a hurry,” Santa Fe High head coach Elmer Chavez said. “[I] told them take their time but we’re going to need to handle these pressure games. Really, this is the first time that somebody crept up on us and came back.”
Chavez said it’s important to maintain a little fear of teams like Española, especially if it keeps his high-riding Demonettes humble.
“You know, I told my assistants, ‘We win by 20, [and] we come back we play them again, we might lose,’ ” he said. “But they came back at us. We’re a little afraid. You’ve got to stay a little afraid of these teams, that way you keep playing well.”
While the Demonettes got a good look at Española, but the same could be said for the Lady Sundevils, who have proven that they can adjust the second and third time around.
The Lady Sundevils lost their first two times to SFIS, but it put the fire in their bellies. They made good on their third matchup against the Lady Braves with a 52-45 win on Jan. 15.
Española’s biggest hurdle will be to neutralize Santa Fe High’s size.
“Their size did hurt us a little bit,” Española head coach Oliver Torres said. “We knew it was on the scouting report. We know that [Sabrina Lozada-]Cabbage and Jackie [Martinez] were going to pound the boards and we knew their guards were going to leak out in the zone and they were going to get it up the floor.”
It was, in fact, the usual suspects who did the most damage. Martinez, sophomore Kayla Herrera and Lozada-Cabbage scored 22, 20 and 17 points, respectively.
“I told the girls, [it’s] nothing to be discouraged about,” Torres said. “They did their job at home and we almost got a steal and we’re going to evaluate everything and go over scouting and over film. Hopefully, there’s a better outcome at home and then we get a playoff game because we’re not planning on losing anymore.”
The Demonettes learned that Española senior Lauren Quintana was almost uncontrollable, as she dropped 31 points on them.
Chavez said it’s imperative to find a way to stop her.
“We’ve just got to contain her better and I thought we did a pretty good job on the zones,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job on our man, we’re going to work on that and get our man up to par.”
The two teams meet again in Española on Feb. 8. For now, though, the next hurdle for Santa Fe High will be facing the Lady Braves on Jan. 28.
It will be the Demonettes’ best chance to show the rest of the state they are for real.