ALBUQUERQUE—The Valencia girls’ basketball season started and ended with losses to the Gallup Bengals.
The season-ender came in the quarterfinals of the State 4A Basketball Championship at the Pit in Albuquerque on Tuesday, with Gallup winning 60-37.
The 10th seeded Jaguars (19-11) opened the scoring when Jadyn Montoya nailed a three pointer from the corner. But playing at the Pit and in front of a large Gallup cheering section, VHS seemed to have early game jitters.
“It’s natural for them to come here and play,” said Valencia coach Micaela Medina of the Bengals. “For us, it’s a whole new experience, something we’ve never done before.”
The Bengals, seeded No. 2, soon went on an 8-0 run and led 16-5 after the first quarter.
VHS turnovers were the story of the game, with Gallup’s pressure and hawking defense too much to handle.
“The two girls I rely on to break the press were just gassed. We just don’t have the numbers that Gallup has,” Medina said.
The Jaguars scored just four points in the second quarter, highlighted by an Azalia Malizia three-pointer. Gallup led at halftime 26-9.
Jaiden Montgomery gave Valencia some momentum to start the third quarter with an offensive rebound and putback. However, Gallup took off on a 14-0 run to build a 47-14 lead heading into the final quarter.
Two three-pointers by Malizia and one from Payton Yabeny helped make the final score more respectable.
Valencia loses just two seniors — Bailey O’Conner and Kylee Ashley. Everyone on the VHS roster played against Gallup.
“This is not the last time they are going to see Valencia playing in the Pit,” the coach said. “I start two freshman, a sophomore and a junior so if we stay hungry and everyone comes back we’re going to be a force for sure.”
The Jaguars’ advanced to the quarterfinals after a 37-31 victory over seventh seeded Silver on Friday in Silver City. After getting off to a sluggish start, VHS took an 18-14 lead at the half.
“We switched up our defense,” Medina said. “It threw them off.”
Medina praised the bench for a big second half, with Shosha McGregor scoring all eight of her points in the final 16 minutes. Azalia Malizia led Valencia with 12 points.
Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.