CAPITAN – Both teams were deep into their district schedules – near the very end, in fact.
But this was a showdown that had been put off for far too long, and every team was ready.
In the end, it was Ruidoso that took the sweep of their Lincoln County rivals Capitan, with the boys winning 69-36, the girls taking a 39-30 victory.
The Warrior girls won only their fifth game of the season, but it didn’t come easy.
Indeed, Ruidoso (5-20) was only able to score five points in the first quarter, but were able to hold Capitan to just three.
Things got a little rough in the second quarter when Dakota Hazen – who led the Lady Tigers (11-13) with nine points – was fouled hard by Alexa Herrera on a rebound.
Herrera was called for the flagrant foul, but Hazen missed both free throws and Capitan wasn’t able to turn the momentum.
At least not until the start of the second half. Dominique Valadez came up with a three less than a minute into the third quarter to put her team within one, and the it was a battle to see who would be on top by the end of the frame.
“The atmosphere was more like a district game than like we’ve seen,” said Ruidoso coach Jason Kampsky. “Facing that kind of pressure was good, and it was good to be able to finish a game.”
A jumper by Jojo Muniz put Ruidoso back in front with 15 seconds left in the third, and the Lady Warriors stayed in front the rest of the way.
Ruidoso got 23 points and 18 rebounds from Lia Mosher, the only Lady Warrior in double figures in either category.
“Mosher’s a difference maker, and she finished some things down the stretch,” said Capitan coach John Devine. “But I’m proud of our girls. I thought they played really well.”
Both teams have a challenge in their final games to at least build momentum in their respective district tournaments. Neither have won a district contest. The Lady Warriors are at Moriarty on Feb. 17, while Capitan is at Capitan Feb. 16 and entertains Eunice at home, Feb. 18.
“I’m feeling disappointed in our team effort to start district,” Devine said. “But now they’re headed in the right direction, and there’s a lot of girls that have really improved.”
Full team effort
Ruidoso’s boys weren’t pushed all that hard by the Tigers, as the Warriors (12-12) had a 7-2 lead early and never trailed in the game.
Josh Romero had 15 points to lead Ruidoso, while Loren Mendez had 11.
More telling was how many Warriors got on the board. All but one scored in the game.
“It was a good win for us with the fan support,” said Ruidoso coach Billy Page. “We also got our bench in, and it was good to see them produce some points as well.”
Capitan (6-18) got 12 points from Alejandro Trujillo.
Tiger coach Justin Foust said his team didn’t play that badly, they just let a lapse of judgment do them in.
“Ruidoso played a good game, and we kind of let them get in our heads a little bit,” Foust said. “We made a huge mental mistake in the third quarter, picked up a technical we didn’t need, and everything snowballed from there.”