Los Lunas maintained their top spot in New Mexico girls basketball with their fourteenth consecutive win after beating Grants 78-53 on Saturday, while Valencia fell 51-31 at Santa Fe Indian.

On Tuesday evening, the Lady Tigers (19-3, 4-0) stretched their win streak to fifteen with a 75-23 victory over Valencia (2-20, 0-4).

“This was a game where we set goals,” said Los Lunas head coach Marty Zeller. “Defensively, we reached that goal. To hold any varsity team to 6 points a quarter is a good job defensively.”

Los Lunas struck early with seven players scoring in the first quarter.

By halftime, the Lady Tigers were up 35-10.

Their high-powered defensive effort helped them maintain a strong lead for the remainder of the game.

Los Lunas sophomore Natalie Jojola led the Lady Tigers with 21 points. Sophomore Mia Guest chipped in with 15 points.

Valencia head coach Micaela Medina said the rivalry in addition to playing the top-ranked team in New Mexico had an effect on the Lady Jags.

“Los Lunas is the best team in the state,” said Medina. “We work on things at practice, but I think the whole rivalry came into effect.

“I could see we got a little nervous, and you can’t get nervous against the best team in the state.”

Despite the losing effort, Medina found bright spots with a few athletes on her squad.

Specifically, she was pleased with the performance of junior Julia Aragon.

“(Aragon) does a lot for us defensively,” said Medina. “She’s very consistent.”

Zeller was also pleased with the growth of the younger members of the Lady Tigers.

“I think the best thing for us right now is that our two sophomore guards have stepped up,” said Zeller. “They’re learning to read and know where our shooters are.”

Looking forward, Medina wants to see the Lady Jags gain confidence and mental toughness.

“We’re all still learning,” Medina said. “Having to build a program, everyday is a challenge. It’s a learning experience for all of us.”

The Lady Jags’ next game will be when they host Belen at 7 p.m. Friday.

The Lady Tigers’ next game will be at Belen at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Belen girls basketball hosted St. Pius on Friday, falling to the Sartans in a 27-25 defensive battle.

“They probably did the best they’ve done all year at executing a game plan,” Belen head coach Richard Armijo said of his team. “We just had a lot of late-game blunders. But I think we played hard.”

The Lady Eagles (9-13, 1-3) played a tight game the entire night, with the Lady Sartans’ biggest lead being 16-13 at halftime.

At the end of the third quarter, Belen was behind 21-19 and had momentum heading to the fourth.

Unfortunately, a few missed layups prevented Belen from overcoming the small deficit.

Belen senior Sydney Valdez led all scorers with 8 points. Senior Eryn Jaramillo chipped in with 6 points of her own for the Lady Eagles.

Due to injuries and other circumstances, Belen has been playing with a smaller roster recently.

Jaramillo, who usually plays shooting guard or small forward, found herself at point guard for most of the game.

Armijo thought she played well at the new position.

“I thought Eryn did a spectacular job,” said Armijo. “We’re playing deeper than we normally would, and I thought she was solid.”

On Tuesday, the Lady Eagles fell in a 40-33 road game at Grants.

The Lady Eagles’ next game will at Valencia at 7 p.m. Friday.

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Dustan Copeland