Especially when the Española Valley eighth-grader made a shot like this.
The Lady Sundevils were trying to hold on without senior Lauren Quintana in their first-round tussle with Piedra Vista in Santa Fe Indian School’s Super Classic girls basketball tournament when the ball swung to Lovato at the right wing. It took a moment of hesitation before she let fly an open 3-pointer.
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It took just a second for it to splash into the net for the crucial points that led Española to a 47-41 win.
The Lady Sundevils (2-0) play Hot Springs at 5 p.m. in the first semifinal. SFIS, a 57-16 winner over Navajo Prep, plays Kirtland Central at 7 p.m. in the nightcap.
And Lovato faced her first interview with the shyness of an eighth-grader. She paused for a moment at questions before laughing nervously, but Lovato answered the question about whether she hesitated on the clutch shot.
“I was going to shoot it,” Lovato said.
It was the second time in the second half the Lady Sundevils had to play without Quintana, the reigning District 2AAAA player of the year. Both times, they showed they could perform without her.
When Quintana left with her fourth foul with less than 2 minutes left in the third quarter, Española (2-0) went on a 4-1 spurt to take a 37-30 lead. When she fouled out at the 1:41 mark, it was Lovato who replaced her with the margin 42-41, Lady Sundevils. Española scored the final five points.
“We’re playing team ball,” said Oliver Torres, Española head coach. “Whether Lauren is out there or whoever, they need to know that they got to make the extra pass and run the offense and score within the offense.”
While Quintana had a game-high 19 points, Lovato added eight — all in the second half. In fact, the Lady Sundevils scored the last 14 points without Quintana registering a single one.
“I think we all stepped up,” Quintana said. “We have a deep bench and we’re all good players. So we don’t have to count on just one person. We can count on anybody.”
Santa Fe Indian School 57, Navajo Prep 16
This was how long a night it was for the Lady Eagles. They scored four points in the first 2:19, but three over the next 18:11 as SFIS turned a 9-4 advantage into a 35-6 one after Daniella Hall’s layup with 4:05 left in the third quarter.
SFIS head coach Cindy Roybal said the team’s defense has been spectacular during the first two games of the season.
“I told them, ‘We gotta communicate and and we got to know where everybody is and we got to get some stops,’ ” Roybal said. “And we’re a pressing team, and we could have pressed [Thursday], but then it would have been really ugly. But we didn’t have to.”
The Lady Braves (2-0) got all 10 players into the scoring column, led by Danielle Nelson’s 13 points. She also had five steals, which was eclipsed only by Jennifer Willie, who had seven on the night.
It seems that the team is trying to follow the senior post’s lead.
“Everybody, even all my young kids, are picking up the defense because I keep praising Dani in practice,” Roybal said.
Kirtland Central 47, Grants 43 (OT)
The Lady Pirates rallied from a 29-23 fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime, but Kirtland Central (1-1) outscored them 12-8 in the overtime to advance to the semifinals.
Shamika Benally had four of her 15 points in the extra period to lead Kirtland Central (1-1), and Taylor Billey finished with 13 points, all in the second half.
Sydney Mares had 18 points for Grants, with 11 coming in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Hot Springs 50, SFIS JV 41
The worst place in the gym for the Lady Tigers was the free-throw line.
They hit just 9 of 26 in the first half, which let the junior Lady Braves hang around, trailing 20-15 at the half.
Hot Springs executed its offense better in the second half, and held a lead as big as 46-34 in the fourth quarter to advance to the semifinals.
Post Kirstie Evans had eight points in the second half for the Lady Tigers, which augmented Tessa Jones’ 17.
Tia Henderson led SFIS’s JV with 12 points, while Sabrina Gould finished with 10.