The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Melrose crushes Cliff in 1A girls semifinals


March 13, 2019

RIO RANCHO — The most mind-numbing thing about the Melrose girls’ 65-33 win in the Class 1A semifinals Thursday might be that it’s the closest anybody’s come to the Buffaloes so far in the bracket.

There wasn’t much doubt following a 20-4 first quarter at the Santa Ana Star Center that Melrose, the Class 1A runnerup the last two seasons and the No. 1 seed this year, would make its way to a fifth-straight title game.

They did just that at the Santa Ana Star Center, leading by as many as 36 to set up a battle with second-seeded Tatum 10 a.m. Saturday at The Pit.

Nataley Mondragon had a double-double with 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting and 10 rebounds to lead Melrose (24-6),but she had plenty of help as eight other players scored.

The fifth-seeded Cowgirls (22-9) never led, turned the ball over 22 times and finished with 13-of-55 shooting, including 1-of-15 from beyond the arc.

Melrose, meanwhile, was 23-of-51, including 8-of-13 from beyond the arc. Mondragon alone went 5-of-7 from the 3-point line. She also had four of Melrose’s 15 steals.

"We got out, pressured them right away," Melrose coach Caleb King said of the dominant start. "That’s what we knew we wanted to do. They’re really big on the inside, so we wanted to pressure their guards and make it hard for them to get the ball to the post players. We did a pretty good job of that."

Shannon May flirted with a double-double, scoring nine points and pulling down eight rebounds. Hailey Martin wasn’t far behind with eight and eight herself.

In their three tournament games, which have helped extend Melrose’s winning streak to nine games, the Buffs have outscored the opposition 207-97, and not giving up more than 33 points in any of the contests.

Kimberly Gutierrez led the Cowgirls with 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting, but nobody else scored more than six.

Saturday will mark the first matchup of the season between the Buffaloes and the Coyotes, who took second and fourth in the Eastern Plains Athletic Conference tournament in January. But Tatum isn't an unfamiliar opponent by any means.

"You’ve got to stay in front of them, work your tail off," King said. "They’re tough. We’ve played them year after year after year. We know they’re tough, and we’re in for a battle. We’re going to try to stay in front of them, help close their driving lanes. We’ve got to do a good job of rotating whenever we do help because they can shoot it, too."

Melrose will be making its fifth-consecutive title game appearance, and seventh in eight seasons. The Buffs won the Class 1A title in 2012 and the 2A title in 2015 and 2016, and finished as the 1A runnerup in 2013, 2017 and 2018.


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