ALBUQUERQUE – Ultimately, it was defense and turnovers that made the difference in the Class 2A/1A North-South girls basketball game, June 9, at Cibola High School.
Playing under college rules, the North All-Stars had a 38-34 lead at halftime, utilizing superior shooting by Mya Vigil and Kasandra Velarde to maintain a slim lead.
That shooting offset the South’s relentless defense, which got numerous stales and forced turnovers to keep them close.
Key to that defense was Elida’s Madison Haley, who was raised on this type of helter-skelter play.
She ended up with 17 points to tie with teammate DaeLynn Lee, and many of her points came in transition.
That was particularly true near the end of the game, when the South went on an 11-1 run to turn a two-point deficit into an eight-point lead.
Indeed, the North scored just two points in the final six-and-a-half minutes of the game, on free throws by Kasandra Velarde and Mya Vigil.
Vigil’s 16 points led the North, while Cauy DuBoise had 13 poins and Velarde 12.
Part of that run included Mescalero center Lauryn Yuzos, who had a steal at half court and drove all the way to the bucket for the score.
It was the last prep game for her before attending Northern New Mexico College in the Fall, where she’ll continue her basketball career.
“I’m going to miss this, kind of depressed this is my last game as a high schooler,” Yuzos said. “But at least I’m going out as a winner.”
Mescalero teammate Janessa Melendrez was also on the South squad, although she didn’t get as many points.
Corona’s Angelina Romero didn’t get many either – she and Melendrez combined for five total – but just getting to the game was an honor, particularly for Romero, who was named as an alternate and got her big chance.
Melendrez echoed that sentiment.
“It was an amazing experience throughout,” Melendrez said. “Getting to play with this team with some amazing girls that have won state championships was an amazing experience for me.”