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

Texico girls avenge defeat


February 23, 2020

Kevin Wilson

Texico's Ashley Hill goes up for the layup as Pecos' Angelique Sanchez tries to contest in the fourth quarter of Friday's District 7-2A contest at Texico Sports Arena. Hill scored 11 in Texico's 45-27 victory.

TEXICO — Tough, opportunistic defense + fast-break baskets + overall scrappy play = District 7-2A regular-season champions.

That was the equation for Texico’s girls basketball team this past Friday night when hosting Pecos at the Texico Sports Arena. Employing all of the above, the Lady Wolverines took command early, held a double-digit lead for most of the game, and won 45-27 to capture the district’s regular-season title and the postseason district tournament’s No. 1 seed.

Texico also avenged a Feb. 7 double-overtime loss at Pecos to finish with a 5-1 district record while knocking the Lady Panthers to 4-2 in district play.

“It was a big win for us,” Texico head coach Richard Luscombe said. “We’ve been getting a little better and a little better and a little better since we got all of our kids back (healthy). I just think that they prepared themselves well this week, and it showed. ... I thought we played probably some of the best defense we’ve played all year.”

“I think we did great; we came out really strong,” Lady Wolverines junior forward Rachel Phipps said after scoring a game-high 16 points. “We worked really hard this week to do our best, and it worked.”

“I feel like it gives us a lot of momentum,” Texico senior forward Ashley Hill said after contributing 11 points to Friday’s cause. “The last time they beat us it was a little downfall, but I feel like now that we’re going to play them three times, it just helps us to recognize that we can beat them. We just have to slow the game down a little.”

Though Hill may well be right about Texico facing Pecos a third time, that won’t be official unless the second-seeded Lady Panthers win this Wednesday’s semifinal against whichever team emerges from Monday’s opening-round game between fourth-seeded Santa Rosa and third-seeded Clayton.

Pecos had been hoping to avoid a Wednesday game by winning this past Friday and getting the top seed. The Lady Panthers had taken a big step in that direction with that 60-51 double-overtime victory at home two weeks before Friday’s game, erasing a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit along the way. And though the Panthers still have a better overall record (20-6) than Texico (12-10), they could never get going Friday and wound up with the No. 2 seed.

“We didn’t finish our shots,” Pecos head coach Bryan Gonzales said. “We had too many missed shots, too many missed opportunities, easy layups, putbacks. We were getting the stops, we were getting the steals, but we just didn’t finish. I think that was the biggest thing for us.”

Hill got Texico kick-started on both ends of the floor, beginning the game with a steal, driving for a layup and drawing a foul. She sank both free throws and the Lady Wolverines had a 2-0 lead just 37 seconds in.

On Texico’s next possession, a Hill layup doubled the lead, and a bit later, a possession created by a Melissa Lewallen defensive rebound ended with another Hill layup, making it 6-0.

Lewallen also created Texico’s following possession, this time with a steal, and that possession ended with a Phipps basket, stretching the Lady Wolverines’ lead to 8-0.

Pecos finally scored near the four-minute mark on a bucket from Trinity Herrera, but Texico then notched seven straight points to end the first quarter — on a pair of Riley Rohrbach free throws, a wide-open basket underneath from Sydney Furrow, and a leftside trey from Phipps, handing the Lady Wolverines a 15-2 lead by quarter’s end.

22 seconds into the new period, Furrow went 1-for-2 from the line, and after Furrow ended Pecos’ ensuing possession with a defensive rebound, Phipps canned a left-elbow three on the other end, making it 19-2 Texico with less than two minutes gone by in the quarter.

By intermission Pecos had narrowed the margin a bit, trailing 22-8. But a bizarre occurrance at the end of halftime gave Texico some momentum to start the third quarter when the Lady Panthers didn’t come back out of the locker room on time and the Lady Wolverines were awarded two technical fouls, shot and sank by Rohrbach.

“Our locker room was way down here,” Gonzales explained, pointing down the hall behind the main gym. “We didn’t hear the three-horn buzzer. They don’t have anything down here to notify, or a clock inside the locker room or anything. I take responsibility for that.”

“I know they were a long ways down the hallway, in one of the furthest dressing rooms,” Luscombe said.

Rohrbach’s technicals — two of her eventual 10 points — were the start of a 10-0 Texico run to open the third quarter, a run that also included another Phipps trey, a three-point play completed at the line by Hill, and a basket underneath from Lewallen, putting Texico ahead 32-8.

Pecos didn’t give up, and was sometimes able to pressure the Lady Wolverines into mistakes. The result was a 15-4 Lady Panther run that spilled over into the fourth quarter and reduced the difference to 36-23 with more than six minutes still remaining in the game.

Texico, though, didn’t falter and never let the deficit shrink that low again.

Soon, the Lady Wolverines were regular-season district champs, and with their No. 1 seed they get a week off before having to play this Friday’s title game at the Texico Sports Arena.

Luscombe thinks last Friday’s win, and hopefully another one this Friday, could go a long way for Texico’s state-tournmaent seeding.

“It’ll be interesting,” Luscombe said. “Pecos has been ranked pretty high all year long, and it’ll be interesting to see what that does to us, how it works itself out. Hopefully that’ll keep us away from having to travel in the first round of the state tournament. We sure don’t want to have to get on the road and go to Gallup or someplace like that. Hopefully we move up a little bit and it makes a difference.”

Good start, rough finish

In Friday’s nightcap, the Texico boys team had no chance of winning or sharing the regular-season district title.

At best the Wolverines could spoil an undefeated Pecos run through district play and get a statement win at the same time.

And though Friday’s game began well for Texico, the three-time state champion Panthers surged ahead in the second quarter, then took control in the second half and ran away with a 64-45 victory.

As a result, Pecos goes into this week’s postseason district tournament with a 6-0 regular-season district mark, 24-1 overall.

Texico (14-8, 2-4) came away with the No. 3 seed and will host fourth-seeded Clayton this Tuesday, beginning at 6 p.m., in the tournament’s opening round. The winner visits second-seeded Santa Rosa this Thursday (also 6 p.m.), and that game’s winner visits Pecos for the title this coming Saturday at 2 p.m.

Texico scored the first four points of this past Friday’s game, on a running bank shot from Luke Phipps and an inside hook by Ruger Horton.

After a backdoor-cut basket by Juan Varela put Pecos on the board, Phipps hit a right-corner three to make it 7-2 Texico. By quarter’s end, the Wolverines had maintained that five-point margin, leading 16-11.

Kevin Wilson

Texico guard Jahvon Askew spins out of a Pecos double team in the first quarter of Friday's game.

Pecos began the second quarter on an 8-0 run to take its first lead of the night, before another Phipps trey tied the game at 19. After a pair of free throws by Pecos’ Ismael Villegas and a basket underneath from Texico’s David Davalos, the game was tied again, this time 21-all.

But, on the ensuing Pecos possession after Davalos’ hoop, Villegas hit a two-point field goal that — as it turned out — put the Panthers ahead for good.

At halftime it was still a reasonable 32-26 deficit for Texico, and the margin was only 34-30 less than two minutes into the third quarter. But six straight Pecos points made it a double-digit affair for the first time, and the Panthers led 46-36 by quarter’s end.

A short one-hander by Cade Collins brought Texico within eight points early in the fourth quarter, but Pecos then scored five straight, and the Panthers’ lead was never single digits again.


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