Santa Fe Indian School puts on such a good show that sometimes it’s hard to know who to look at when the Lady Braves play.
It was no different Saturday when the Lady Braves hammered the Taos Lady Tigers 41-28 during the Ben Luján Tournament championship in Pojoaque Valley’s Ben Luján Gymnasium.
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Sure, the Lady Braves (10-1) have put up more points, but they still dominated throughout, especially during the first 16 minutes. SFIS allowed Taos only 10 points in the first half for a 21-10 lead. SFIS forced 13 turnovers in the first two quarters alone.
Of course, Taos beat itself, as well. The Lady Tigers took plenty of shots, but just couldn’t seem to hit much of anything.
Taos senior forward Marcella Sanchez was the team’s leading scorer with just nine points.
SFIS head coach Cindy Roybal, who dedicated her team’s win to late House Speaker Ben Luján and his family, said it was definitely the defense that carried the day for the Lady Braves. And senior Danielle Nelson is at the helm of their defense. In fact, Roybal says she adjusts her defenses around Nelson.
“She’s the best defensive player I’ve coached in a long time, and she has no fear and she is aggressive on defense, and she’s smart,” Roybal said. “All I have to do is tell her what to do and she’s got it.”
Nelson was no slouch offensively, putting up 10 points, only behind teammate Bridget Lee’s 14. Considering Nelson is still working off an ankle injury from last season, which she re-tweaked during the volleyball season, her determination was on full display.
“I don’t know what I did to it,” Nelson said. “I must have tweaked it bad. My right leg is kind of all messed up. It doesn’t stop me, so I just keep going for it.”
She said she was worried when the season began that other teams might take advantage of her injury, but her parents helped her work through it, telling her to put it out of her mind.
Nelson might have taken that advice a little too literally, falling behind on her physical therapy, but Roybal was there to help get her back on track.
“The therapist had given her some specific exercises to do and she had neglected to do them,” Roybal said. “And now I’ve got her doing them before practice and every game.”
The Lady Braves might not face their next real challenge until the end of January, when they go up against the Santa Fe High Demonettes and the triumvirate of Jackie Hernandez, Kayla Herrera and Sabrina Lazada-Cabbage on Jan. 29.
Until then, SFIS has plenty of time to add to its winning record.
Española Valley 55, Pojoaque Valley 52
It was an all-out battle in the paint as the Elkettes (6-5) and Lady Sundevils (8-3) battled for third place, with Española sealing the deal in the final seconds.
Pojoaque head coach Ron Drake was denied his 500th win yet again this tournament, but the Elkettes forced his former team to fight every inch of the way. The Elkettes captured a three-point lead going into the third at 40-37 after trailing 11-9 in the first and 23-22 at the half.
Española knocked in seven 3-pointers, though, and the Elkettes lost their lead when Lady Sundevils senior guard Krista Bustos sank her third 3-pointer with 4:33 to make it 45-all and never regained it.
Pojoaque senior point guard Cheyenne Cordova posted 15 points and had four assists, as well as capturing all-tournament honors.
Trujillo and Bustos had 13 points each for Española.
Raton 67, Mesa Vista 36
It was over by the end of the first quarter.
The Lady Tigers (3-3) were up 29-5, a deficit Mesa Vista (4-4) couldn’t overcome. The game’s high-point honors went to Mesa Vista junior Selina Siquieros, who had 13 points, followed by senior Larissa Pena with 11.
Junior Mikala Vertovec put up 11 points for Raton.
Socorro 65, Peñasco 20
The Lady Warriors (4-5) walked away with seventh place after a 20-point run in the second quarter put an end to the Lady Panthers (0-9).
Peñasco didn’t help matters, only scoring seven points in the second half. The Lady Warriors upped their lead 43-18 by the end of the third. Socorro seniors Ashton Monetta and Theresa Chavez each netted 12 points, while Madeline Chavez got 10.