Adam Evarts | News-Bulletin photo
The Valencia High School girls basketball team gathers around coach Micaela Medina during a time out.

Los Lunas Tigers

The Lady Tigers are in the midst of a transition.

Gone is Marty Zeller, the coach that led the team to five state championships and at least a state semifinal appearance in his other two seasons.

Gone are five seniors from last season’s team that ended with a 12-2 record and lost to Hobbs in the semifinals.

“We’re going to take some lumps,” LLHS head coach Anne Salazar said when asked about her thoughts on the season. “We’re in a genuine rebuild this season and it will take time.”

The Lady Tigers return Jessika Otero and Klarissa Hall, two key players who saw significant playing time during last season.

“They have lots of experience and are good leaders,” Salazar said. “We will definitely lean on their experience early in the season.”

Salazar keys in on some important games, but there is one big game that she notes.

“The game against Volcano Vista will be a tough test,” Salazar said. “They have a lot of Division-1 talent on their roster. That game and the district games will be our biggest of the season.”

The Lady Tigers have opened the season with two losses. Dropping a

 

Belen Eagles

The Lady Eagles are looking to build up a team that the community can take pride in.

“We are trying to build this program into something big,” said BHS head coach Chris Storey. “There really isn’t much excitement as far as the history of the team, and we want to have something special here. We feel like we can do it.”

The Lady Eagles will have to replace Jasmine Gonzales, who was an all-district selection last season. Though it appears they have the girls that are up to that task.

Led by seniors Cadence Martinez and Annahy Aguilar, the Lady Eagles are hoping to top the combined record of 5-32 that the team has had the last two seasons.

“We have a bunch of young talent that we are going to develop over the next few seasons,” Storey said. “We are going to fight hard every game this season, I will tell you that.”

The season for Belen tipped off on Tuesday, Nov. 30, against Del Norte.

Storey points to the tournaments as chances for his team to grow together and bond.

“We have two tournaments coming up this season,” Storey said, “and those will be some good times for the team to get to know each other. With that, we feel it will help us a ton come district time.”

 

Valencia Jaguars

For the Valencia Lady Jaguars, improvement and hope are the names of the game this season.

“I am hoping we just improve over last season,” VHS head coach Micaela Medina said. “We’re always looking for improvement.”

Last season, cut short due to the pandemic, the Jags finished with a record of 5-7.

This season, there is reason for hope. Elena Lucero and Azalia Malizia return as both were first team All-District selections last season. However, Medina thinks the roster is full of talent.

“All 12 of these players are capable of starting,” Medina said. “With that, I am hoping we can finish top two in district.”

The Lady Jaguars are currently 0-2 on the season, having lost to Gallup on Nov. 23 and losing to Clovis on the Nov. 27.

Aside from the games in-district, one other key game that Medina pointed to was a Jan. 13 showdown with Kirtland Central.

Other key contests include two games with Belen, one on Jan. 18 at Valencia and one on Feb. 4 in Belen.

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Adam Evarts is a graduate of the University of New Mexico where he studied journalism and history. He has lived in Valencia County most of his life. Adam covers sports for the Valencia County News-Bulletin, including prep competitions for the three local high schools, Senior Olympics, rodeo, Little League and more.