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

Two down for Texico

Regular season, tournament crown for 7-2A in hands.

 

March 1, 2020

Kevin Wilson

Texico's Riley Rohrbach goes up for a shot attempt against tight defense from Pecos' Alexis Gonzales in the second quarter of Friday's District 7-2A championship. The host Wolverines won 56-43.

TEXICO — Two down, one to go.

The Lady Wolverines, like any local basketball team, had three goals for their season — 1) win their district in the regular season, 2) win their postseason district tournament, 3) win a state championship.

Friday at Texico Sports Arena, the Lady Wolverines achieved the second of those two goals, pulling away from Pecos in the fourth quarter to win 56-43 and capture the postseason District 7-2A crown for the second straight year.

Exactly a week earlier, the Lady Wolverines beat that same Pecos team at that same gym 45-27 to win the regular-season district title.

Every goal achieved is progressively bigger. Two weeks hence the Lady Wolverines hopes to get No. 3 on the list, their second state championship in three years. That’s the big one, the blue trophy.

But No. 2 on Friday was plenty big in itself.

“Especially when we, about three or four weeks ago when we had a bunch of kids injured and we were fighting for every opportunity, never thought we were going to have a chance to play for a district championship,” Texico head coach Richard Luscombe said.

Friday, the Lady Wolverines not only played for one but led for most of the last three quarters after trailing much of the first.

“I thought they played pretty consistently throughout the entire game,” Luscombe said, “and much better in the fourth quarter.”

Leading to the district title.

“I think it’s a really big part of our season, a really big part of the end of our district season,” Texico senior forward Ashley Hill said after scoring a game-high 24 points, 11 in the fourth quarter. “I think it gives us a lot of momentum going into the states. This will help us play better, I think.”

“It was definitely a very exciting game,” junior forward Riley Rohrbach said after adding 12 points to the Lady Wolverines’ cause. “It wasn’t picture perfect, but it was fun to see everybody battle and just do what we needed to do.”

Texico improved to 13-10 overall, while Pecos still had a very respectable 21-7 mark after two losses at Texico in a week, and is now taking that record into the state 2A tournament.

“We’re going to be fine,” Lady Panthers head coach Bryan Gonzales said. “We’ll just keep working, do what we need to do, stay focused. We’re ready.”

For more than three quarters Friday, neither team was able to really take command. Texico, in fact, had a 32-26 lead early in the third before Pecos accounted for seven of the next eight points scored and pulled into a 33-all tie with 34 seconds to go in the period. The game-tying bucket occurred after Pecos’ Trinity Herrera came up with a steal near the head of the foul circle, then drove for a layup.

The Lady Wolverines caught a break on their final possession of the third quarter, when Rohrbach turned to take a mid-range jumper right before the buzzer, and when the Lady Panthers contested it they fouled her, sending her to the free-throw line with just 0.4 seconds on the third-quarter clock.

Rohrbach calmly sank both attempts, allowing Texico to lead 35-33 heading into the fourth period.

Nine seconds into the new quarter, Hill was at the line hitting two foul shots and making it a 37-33 game. A minute and 44 seconds later, freshman guard Claire McDaniel was at the stripe knocking down two more free throws for the Lady Wolverines and giving them a 39-33 advantage.

Less than 30 seconds after that, Pecos freshman Mistidawn Roybal scored underneath to bring her team within four, but on Texico’s ensuing possession Rohrbach scored from under the basket to make it a six-point game again.

With less than five minutes to play in the fourth, Hill was fouled making a putback and completed the three-point play from the line, stretching the Lady Wolverines’ lead to 44-35.

Pecos had it down to seven when Herrera scored two of her team-high 22 points. And after an offensive foul by Texico, Herrera went off glass to bring the Lady Panthers within 44-39.

But more foul-shooting by Texico did the trick. McDaniel went 2-for-2 from the stripe with 3:13 left, and eight seconds later — soon after a Rachel Phipps steal — Sydney Furrow went 1-for-2 from the line, giving the Lady Wolverines a 47-39 lead.

A right-elbow trey from Phipps just about sealed victory for Texico, making it a 50-39 game with not much more than two minutes remaining. The Lady Panthers were never within single digits again.

Kevin Wilson

Ashley Hill scores in traffic in the first quarter of Friday's contest. Hill had a game-high 24 points in the win.

The game’s complexion was changed by timely Texico shooting from the field, and especially from the foul line. Hill, who shot 14-of-14 from the stripe overall, went 9-for-9 from there in the decisive fourth quarter.

“They hit their free throws. That was pretty much it,” Gonzales said. “Our defense was still good; they only scored four baskets (from the field) in the whole second half.”

But successful foul shots are just as integral as successful field goals. And largely as a result of the Lady Wolverines’ clutch shooting from the line, they ended the night being crowned district champions.

Now comes the state tournament.

“It’ll give us a lot of momentum. Seeding, I have no idea,” Luscombe said. “I’ve looked at it, and there’s no telling what (the seeding committee) will do. I think we should definitely get a home game, but I don’t know how high up we can be. I know we’ve got to be higher than Pecos; hopefully that gets us in a good spot.”

 
 

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