MESCALERO – Despite his team trailing at halftime, Mescalero girls basketball coach Elmer Chavez was confident his team had what it took t o win, Feb. 23, in the District 3-2A championship.
Turns out he was right, as the Chiefs took a 56-45 victory over Lordsburg to earn their third straight district title.
“I took us a while to get going, we hadn’t played all week,” Chavez said. “They (Lordsburg) had played last night, so I figured they’d get a little tired at the end.”
Mescalero (26-1) has been tested all year by the Mavericks, and Friday’s game was no exception.
Lordsburg (19-7) held the lead throughout much of the first half, but to the Chiefs’ credit, it was never a lead of blowout proportions.
In fact, the only reason the Mavericks held a lead after the first quarter was thanks to a last second, quarter-court three pointer by Anissa Plowman to put Lordsburg up 12-11.
Basically, Lordsburg was able to maintain its lead by doing the kind of things the Chiefs usually do to their opponents – better rebounding, a defense that leads to steals, an offense that pushes the ball inside for layups.
But while Mescalero’s early attempts at scoring inside failed – particularly against big Maverick center Madison Miller – things started to turn around for the Chiefs in the second half, just as Chavez figured they would.
“We kept making shots and started attacking the basket,” Chavez said. “The last time (against them) we scored 20 points in the fourth quarter. Every single score except for one three was driving inside and making layups. I told them at halftime we had to attack that basket and work a little bit.”
Lordsburg still led the entire third quarter until the very end, when a layup by Fallon Velasquez tied it at 35-all.
That layup was Velasquez’s sixth point in a row, and a similar seven-point run in the fourth quarter put her team up 52-42 in the fourth quarter.
Velasquez led her team with 29 points.
“I felt good, because I knew Katelyn (Yuzos) and I had to lead this team into the championship,” Velasquez said. “We had to do everything we could to get our teammates going and do what captains do.”
While Yuzos didn’t lead her team in scoring – she ended up with 10 points – she was tops for the Chiefs in everything else, bringing down 16 rebounds, getting three steals and four blocks.
Plowman had 13 points to lead Lordsburg before fouling out, while Miller and Gabby Artiaga had 10 points each.
It’s now a waiting game both teams wen it comes to the Class 2A State tournament. It’s not a question of whether they’ll be in, just a question of how high they’ll be seeded.
Mescalero’s only obstacle to getting a No. 1 seed seems to be Logan.
“I figured if we win tonight, we’d be No. 1, but you never know,” Chavez said. “I’d be happy with No. 2 or No. 1, but I’m just happy that the girls keep improving and getting better. We want to be one of the best teams in the state, so we have to keep working towards that.”