The Demonettes held onto their undefeated status by beating Pojoaque Valley 61-53 to capture first place at the Capital City Invitational.
But it almost went the other way when the Demonettes found themselves battling the Elkettes (5-3) to hold onto their lead late in the fourth quarter.
After dominating the first 24 minutes of the game and racking up 52 points to Pojoaque’s 31, the Demonettes seemed to be sitting pretty at 54-36 with 4:58 left to go.
Then two turnovers and a foul later and Pojoaque point guard Cheyenne Cordova had put up six in a row, breathing new life into the Elkettes.
They were also breathing down Santa Fe’s neck, getting to 58-53 with 45 seconds left on the clock.
The Demonettes suddenly found themselves in a difficult position but head coach Elmer Chavez took the blame for the sticky situation. He said he subbed players who weren’t used to a pressure-cooker situation that late in the game.
“We dominated the whole game and then the last four minutes we got kind of selfish,” he said. “We kept shooting it and when you’re up 19 points with four minutes to go in the game and you let it go with turnovers, you’ve got to be smart about it and not force bad shots.”
Pojoaque head coach Ron Drake was happy with his team’s play at the end.
“We turned up the pressure, too, and started getting in the passing lanes and getting some steals.”
He said what he took away from tonight’s defeat was working on rebounds and offensive shots. He was also pleased with Cordova’s strong performance.
Cordova put in a good show, scoring 21 points from the field and the free-throw line, but Santa Fe’s Jackie Martinez walked away with the game-high score with 23 points, followed closely by sophomore Sabrina Lozada-Cabbage with 21.
Lozada-Cabbage said the team did slow down at the end but that in that situation, you just have to try and pull it out. She added that there’s definite room for improvement.
“I want to work on getting stronger because I had a few turnovers there at the end,” she said. “But as a team, I think we did great tonight. We just need to work on our defense more.”
While it remains to be seen if Santa Fe can dominate stronger opponents during the state tournament, Chavez said it was good for his team to face a bit of a battle against a good team.
“Teams are going to make runs at you,” he said. “You’ve just got to be able to handle them and I think it’ll be good for us. We’ll come back to practice Monday and get our butts back to work.”
Both teams took home awards, with Pojoaque’s Cordova taking all-tournament and high point honors, while teammate Gaby Gonzalez was named all-tournament.
Demonette Kayla Herrera had the second tournament high-point honor. Martinez and Lozada-Cabbage were Santa Fe’s all-tournament winners.
Taos 53, St. Michael’s 43 (OT)
Trouble at the free-throw line burned the Lady Horsemen (2-6) once again as they fell to the Lady Tigers (4-4) in overtime in the third-place matchup.
St. Michael’s trailed 21-15 to the Taos at the half but came roaring back with 18 points in the third quarter. They were up by three heading into the fourth but the Lady Tigers (4-4) rallied to tie it at 40-all.
The Lady Horsemen nearly put the game away after a Taos personal foul with one minute left in the fourth, but sophomore forward Alex Groenewold missed both free throws.
The Lady Tigers seized the momentum, outscoring St. Michael’s 11-2.
Capital 69, Santa Fe JV 43
It was senior captain Alyssa Glaze’s turn to shine for the Jaguars (3-6) as they nabbed fifth place by defeating the junior Demonettes for the second time in two days.
Glaze posted 14 points, including a 3-pointer early in the game. Along with teammate Vivian Valencia’s two first-quarter 3-pointers, Capital cruised to an early six-point lead.
They kept up momentum with 21 points in the second, 13 in the third and 19 in the fourth. The Demonettes were led by Tina Tafoya’s 15 points.