MESCALERO – At the final buzzer, Mescalero’s girls had defeated Pine Hill, 62-37, in the first round of the Class 2A State tournament, March 3.
At halftime, things weren’t so certain.
Mescalero (24-6) was constantly holding off charges by the Lady Warriors throughout the first half. In fact, the Lady Warriors (16-8) held a 14-12 lead after the first quarter.
To start the second period, Katelyn Yuzos’ three-pointer put her team in the lead for good, but the Lady Chiefs still only led by 10 points at the break.
Remember, this was a Pine Hill team that handed the Lady Chiefs a one-point game on the road just after the start of their District 3-2A schedule.
“We missed 14 layups, 18 free throws and had 27 turnovers. We couldn’t play like that again,” said Mescalero coach Elmer Chavez. “If we’d made all those shots and not had any turnovers, we’d have beat this team by 100.”
Mescalero took away any doubt of the game in the third quarter, going on an 11-4 run and continuing to hold off Pine Hill’s scorers.
“We played great press defense and half court defense and wore them down.” Chavez said. “After that, we kept going inside and they couldn’t stop them.
“To start the second half, we went inside two straight times, and that kind of put them away,” he added. “It was a great team effort.”
The sister duo of forward Katelyn and center Lauryn Yuzos combined for 27 points, while Katelyn pulled down 10 rebounds and had two blocks.
Lauryn also led her team with three rebounds.
“We always fight hard when we come out of halftime,” Katelyn said. “This week we were all working hard to play at full capacity.”
Janessa Melendrez added 14 points for Mescalero, while Irie Jake had 14 to lead Pine Hill.
It was also the final home game for senior Lauryn, as well as fellow seniors Melendrez, Alarah Kirgan and Nellia Enjady – not to mention Ariel Aguilar, who had her high school career end in the second game of the season with a knee injury.
“There will be a ton of motivation for us now,”a Lauryn said. “I’ve been playing for five years on varsity, I hope we can do better than last year and everything works out for us.”
With the win, Mescalero moves on to play Fort Sumner in the State quarterfinals at Bernalillo. Game time is 3 p.m. on March 7.
The Lady Chiefs played Fort Sumner earlier this season, winning 50-42.
“We’ve seen them before and know what they can do,” Chavez said of the Vixens. “If we can play like we did tonight, we can beat them.”