Fri Mar 3rd, 2017
Special to the Drum
Tags: 2A-West Region, Alejandra Lujan, Avionne Gomez, Gunnison, Ignacio, Kiana Valdez, Lady Mavericks, Makayla Howell, Montezuma-Cortez High School, Morgan Herrera, Rachel Cooper, san juan basin league, Sharmaine Price, Western State Colorado University
Ignacio holds SJBL power to 22 points
Perhaps Alejandra Lujan wanted to see the tempo increased as much as the fans.
Or perhaps she just wanted to slam the door on San Juan Basin League nemesis Norwood by the fastest means she could.
It was probably a bit of both Saturday afternoon, Feb. 25, at Montezuma-Cortez H.S.
Kicking her game into high gear, as well as a plodding 2A-District 3 Tournament championship back to its initial back-and-forth pace, Lujan began the fourth quarter with a steal and hoop. Then after a steal by sophomore Kiana Valdez, dropped in another transition bucket with a hard pull-up shot in the lane over a defender.
NHS’ Amber Padgett managed a jumper in reply, but Lujan countered by twisting her way through traffic for yet another two points – putting Ignacio up 33-19 and on a no-return course towards a 37-22 win over the vaunted Lady Mavericks.
“Well we came back into the locker room and after we’d finished talking … I was getting a little irritated,” said Lujan, of the team going into halftime tentatively ahead by four, “and I was like, ‘No! I’m going to put that aside and keep going.’”
Finishing with eight points in the final frame and ten all told, Lujan joined junior Avionne Gomez (11 points) and freshman Morgan Herrera (14) in double figures, but only freshman Makayla Howell (two points) managed anything else before fouling out with 3:06 left and IHS comfortably ahead.
“As a team we all could have played a lot better, but we did play really good,” Lujan said, “and now it’s time for regionals!”
Wasting no time building upon the previous evening’s 64-35 semifinal rout of Ridgway, the Lady Bobcats (15-6) played NHS to an 11-11 draw through eight minutes, with Herrera matching counterpart Macie Magallon’s first five points in the marquee individual matchup. But even with Gomez scoring five points in the second, the score at intermission was only 17-13
“I think at the beginning we were just trying to get ahead – kick it up as far as we possibly could, so that we could then run our plays a little better,” said Lujan. “But then once the second quarter came I think everyone was just kind of out of it … panicking, worrying more about the scoreboard than how we were playing.”
Having struggled often with her foul shooting during her first high-school season, Herrera nailed five of her six tries during the third quarter as she totaled seven points – singlehandedly outscoring Norwood (17-4), which got only a Padgett basket and two FT’s from Stephanie Ragsdale in falling behind 27-17 after 24 regulation minutes.
Magallon, who would foul out with 1:22 left in the fourth, finished with only seven points in defeat. Ragsdale registered six, Padgett five and Cortney Lemon four (zero after the upbeat first quarter).
“It means a lot. It really does,” Lujan said, speaking on the significance of reaching the postseason’s second weekend with fellow active varsity seniors Sharmaine Price and Rachel Cooper. “Last year we went and our whole goal this year is to beat the first game. We’re in the championship game already, so we’ve just got to wait to see who we play and take it to ’em. It’s really good; it feels amazing.”
“Now that I realize what we can do together, and that we can work together, we can get a lot bigger.”
Up next, on Saturday, March 4, IHS will play the previous day’s Rangely-Sanford winner at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, for the 2A-West Region, Pod H title and berth into the ‘Great Eight,’ to be held this year at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland. Tipoff time at WSCU is slated for 1:00 p.m.
IN THE DISTRICT SEMIFINAL
Storming out to a 32-14 lead after two quarters against RHS, the Lady ’Cats got 18 points from Herrera, 16 from Gomez, 13 from Lujan and ten from Howell in a well-balanced outing.
The Lady Demons, meanwhile, were led by senior Ara Norwood’s ten points. Ashley Medina contributed eight and Geri-June Hall six, but both Emma Copp (three points) and Caitlin Sanchez fouled out.