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Melrose girls back on top in Class 1A


March 15, 2020

XL Sports Photography

Melrose players celebrate after their 47-39 win over Logan to claim the Class 1A basketball title Saturday morning at The Pit in Albuquerque. The title is the seventh in school history and first since 2016, following three consecutive state runnerup finishes.

ALBUQUERQUE — The Melrose Lady Buffs may have lost the season series to rival Logan, but they won the one that counted most on Saturday.

Melrose rallied from a 3-point deficit entering the fourth quarter, scoring the game’s final eight points over the last three minutes to turn back the Lady Longhorns 47-39 in the Class 1A girls state championship game at The Pit on the campus of the University of New Mexico.

In a game played with virtually no spectators due to coronavirus concerns, Melrose (27-4) ended a run of three consecutive state runnerup finishes.

“We knew it would be a battle all the way through,” Lady Buffs coach Caleb King said. “Both teams know each other really well.”

The District 6-1A squads met five times during the season, with Logan (25-5) taking the first three — including a double-overtime win in the finals of the EPAC tournament at Greyhound Arena in Portales in January — before the Lady Buffs won the district tourney championship game at Logan on Feb. 28.

This one wasn’t decided until late.

“There was some uncertainty here and there,” said senior guard Nataley Mondragon, one of three Lady Buffs in double digits with 10 points. “No matter what happened, we were just thankful for the opportunity.

“After all those losses we’ve had (in the previous three state finals), that pretty much helped push us to get to where we wanted to be.”

King’s teams have now gone 3-3 in state finals in his six seasons at the helm.

Junior Hailey Martin and senior Shannon May combined to go 12-for-12 from the free throw line, each finishing with 12 points for the Lady Buffs, while May cleared a team-best seven rebounds.

“(King) made us shoot a lot of free throws (on Friday) in practice,” Mondragon said. “I think that helped a lot today.”

Seniors Jordan Hines and Karli Webb posted 14 points each for the Lady Longhorns, but Webb and fellow starter Kassi Foote fouled out down the stretch to help shortcircuit Logan’s comeback bid.

Melrose got out of the gates early, rolling to an 11-4 lead after one quarter as Mondragon scored five points and May had four. But Logan dominated the middle two stanzas and carried a 30-27 lead into the final period.

“Towards the end of the third quarter we switched from zone (defense) to man-to-man,” King said. “We wanted to make sure Karli Webb didn’t get many good shots.”

All six players who scored for Melrose in the game contributed points in the final segment, led by Mondragon with five points and Martin (4-for-4 from the line) and May with four apiece.

XL Sports Photography

Melrose guard Nataley Mondragon floats a shot up after getting through the Logan defense in Saturday's 1A title game.

Mondragon and King said it wasn’t that hard to adjust to having little to no people in the stands at the cavernous UNM facility. Teams were limited to 20 people including players, coaches and administrators, and overall occupancy was capped at 100.

“It was weird at first,” Mondragon acknowledged. “But once you get into the game you don’t really notice it that much.”

Melrose was dominated on the boards 41-23, but force the Lady Longhorns into 19 turnovers while committing just 10 of its own. Webb posted a double-double, grabbing 11 rebounds, while Hines just missed that feat with nine caroms.

On Saturday night, Melrose tried to complete a sweep of the 1A division when the top-seeded Buffaloes faced No. 2 Maxwell in the boys final. Check online at for more information.


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