HONDO – Once more, it took a while for Hondo’s girls basketball team to find its groove, Feb. 8, in the Lady Eagles’ home game against Carrizozo.
The Lady Grizzlies had the lead for most of the game before an 11-2 run gave Hondo the lead for good in a 39-32 victory.
“This is the point in the season where everybody is on their A game,” said Hondo coach Alice Velasquez. “Also, Carrizozo wants to beat us, and there’s always something to work on. We just methodically took them out.”
Hondo (18-4) found itself in a tight game from the get-go, as Lady Grizzly center Hannah Ventura was a force, scoring 13 of her game-high 19 points in the first quarter and eventually leading her team to a 20-17 lead at the break.
But the fact that three points was the biggest lead they could muster is telling of how determined the Lady Eagles were.
“Hannah is pretty darn good, but what she was getting early, she wasn’t getting at the end,” Velasquez said. “We did our job.”
Hondo actually had a 25-24 advantage at the end of the third quarter on a layup by Chase Dictson, who led the Lady Eagles with 15 points.
It was a total team effort for Hondo, as Joyce Ann Cooper led the way with 13 rebounds and six steals, while Dictson also had a pair of blocks.
All this countered the overwhelming presence of Ventura in the middle for Carrizozo (4-20).
“We missed a lot of free throws, we probably missed 15 of them,” said Carrizozo coach George Vega. “In a close game, that’s what it’s all about.”
Eventually, the Lady Grizzlies tired out from Hondo’s relentless pressure defense, just as Velasquez intended.
“Eventually, we closed up our man to man press and just methodically took them out,” Velasquez said. “We showed we were true to form in our effort and hustle and just keep moving on.”
It’s nothing but district games now for both teams, as they head into their respective district tournaments.
For Hondo, a State berth is a much more guaranteed thing, but the Lady Grizzlies are still holding out hope they can win two – or maybe even all three – of their last home games against Animas, Quemado and Reserve.
“This game was good practice for tomorrow (against Reserve),” Vega said. “We’ve got to win these next three games or we’ll be watching from home.”
Hondo’s boys cruise
In the nightcap, there was never any doubt Hondo’s boys would get the victory, as the Eagles built up a 12-2 lead early and flew to a 68-33 win.
Hondo (18-5) won the same way they always have, using a frenetic up-tempo defense to create havoc and turnovers, then scoring tons of transition buckets.
Eagle coach Ben Sanchez said things aren’t quite peaking yet for his team, but they’re looking very good as they head into the district and state tournaments.
“There were a couple of breakdowns defensively, but I like what we’re doing on offense,” Sanchez said. “We’re close, but we’re not quite there yet.”
Carrizozo (11-13) was plagued by a lack of teamwork, according to coach Trampus Pierson, and the final three home district games are coming up.
“If we play the way we have the last four games, it really won’t matter,” Pierson said. “We refuse to play as a team, instead playing as a bunch of individuals. I’m done yelling at them. If they want to do something, they’ll have to get out there and play.”
Simon Gonzalez had another great night for the Eagles, pouring in 30 points and complimented by 11 points from Antonio Vazquez and 10 from Miguel Gonzalez.
Riley Pierson was the only Grizzly in double figures with 13 points.