The St. Michael’s Lady Horsemen and Pecos Lady Panthers are ready for a little redemption at the St. Michael’s Lady Horsemen Christmas Tournament this weekend.
They’ll have their first crack at it when they meet each other on Thursday in St. Michael’s Perez-Shelley Memorial Gymasium. Both teams have struggled offensively — the Lady Horsemen at the line and the Lady Panthers with keeping up offensive momentum — but they feel good going into the tournament.
Coming off a near-miss in a 29-28 loss to the unbeaten Santa Fe High on Dec. 20, St. Michael’s head coach Martin Romero has something tangible to show his team is improving. He said the Lady Horsemen (3-7) put in a solid defensive effort but missed layups and free throws, ultimately handing the game to the Demonettes.
As for the tournament, Romero said that because his players aren’t that tall, each team they play brings different challenges. His focus has been on making easy baskets and bringing together different defensive strategies. He thinks the Lady Horsemen have a good shot this time around.
It should be noted, though, that they have not won the tournament since the inaugural event in 1991.
“I like our chances of competing for a chance to win our own tournament,” he said. “We haven’t won this tournament in quite a while.”
The Lady Panthers (2-4) seem to have an emerging pattern — win one game, lose two — and have just come off back-to-back losses with Estancia and Santa Rosa. Pecos head coach Leroy Barela said his team is revved up after working on cleaning up its offense, but Barela said the only way to overcome losing a few games is to play hard.
“Offensively, we’re trying to have that same kind of energy,” he said. “Our defensive energy is very good.”
The Lady Horsemen and Lady Panthers faced each other in the summer, and Barela was impressed with St. Michael’s.
“When you go face St. Mike’s, right away you know you’re going to have a battle on your hands,” he said.
The 3 p.m. game features Taos (6-5) and Farmington’s Lady Scorpions (1-6). Taos came in second at the Ben Luján Tournament last weekend, falling 41-28 to an indomitable Santa Fe Indian School (9-1) team for the championship.
Taos head coach Robert Trujillo said he’s looking forward to this tournament, especially if the Lady Tigers end up playing Española in the semifinals.
“I think if things work out well and [Taos] and Española meet, it’s going to be a battle to get to the final,” Trujillo said.
He said his team is still working a few things out, such as man-to-man defense and trapping, but the players only reconvened for practice on Wednesday since this weekend will be their fourth tournament.
This will be the third tournament for both St. Michael’s and Pecos. Both Romero and Barela say they miss the practice time in the gym to fix issues, but the good, such as playing teams you wouldn’t normally see in the regular season, outweighs the bad.
Trujillo called tournaments a “double-edged sword” since you can wear down your team, but he also said it’s important for the players to not have too many days off in a row. He appreciates the Lady Horsemen tournament because it fills a space that can open up at the end of December.
Barela took a similar position, saying that the more games in a row teams can play, the better.
“Tournaments are good,” Barela said. “They prepare you for district and prepare you for state.”