Host Pojoaque Valley girls turn back West Las Vegas, 52-39, Saturday night for annual Ben Lujan Memorial Basketball Invitational championship
Boys title goes to undefeated Bernalillo as it routs Pojoaque, 74-46, for its 10th straight victory
By ARNIE LESHIN, Santa Fe Today
Because it is the host school and gets the most support, the key for Pojoaque Valley is to gain the girls and boys championship game of the annual Ben Lujan Memorial Basketball Invitational.
That they did, but they came out batting .500 Saturday night. While the Elkettes came away with the girl’s title by turning back West Las Vegas, 52-39, for their ninth win in 10 starts, the Elks weren’t as fortunate in losing to undefeated Bernalillo, 74-46, in the boy’s final.
The Elkettes have been impressive under head coach Seledan Martinez. They have been employing an offense that can count on going inside and outside, they have a balance attack, and an aggressive defense.
“They play very well as a team,” Martinez said. “They are not selfish, they look for one another, and they have confidence.”
For the Dons, it was the second loss in eight starts, and they gave Pojoaque problems until the home team went into full gear. But it hurt itself by missing its first seven shots of the third quarter. That gave WLV a chance to go on a 10-2 run as Jeanna Buston’ 3 put her team up 30-27 with 4:19 left in the quarter.
The Dons played most of this time with star freshman Brianna Marquez taking an early seat after picking up two personal fouls in the first quarter. She finished with 6 points after scoring 34 in the semifinal victory. And the Elkettes were now going to their pressure defense, picking up players at midcourt.
They forced four turnovers and went in front 36-30, wiping out a 3-point deficit. Next, they tossed in five unanswered points that Ashten Martinez began with a put-back basket and Mischela Martinez put the emphasize on with a 3-pointer. From there, Pojoaque maintained its lead and celebrated by hoisting the championship trophy.
In the third place game, it was Penasco (9-2) over Mora (3-7), 57-41. Fifth place went to Espanola McCurdy (5-3) over Bernalillo (2-11), 54-49, and the seventh place contest resulted in a 56-49 win for Wingate (1-7) over Mesa Vista (2-8) by a 56-49, and was the first triumph of the season for Wingate,
The boy’s game for the championship was never close. The Spartans won their 10th straight with a sizeable height advantage, a talented backcourt, and a plenty of bench strength. They are being talked up now as the latest challenge to five-time state 4A champion Albuquerque Hope Christian.
“If they want to include us in the conversation regarding Hope, that’s fine, but we still have plenty of work to do,” said Bernalillo head coach Terry Darnell. Sure, we’d love to win state, but with each win we are happy to gain more confidence and experience.”
His Spartans raced ahead to a 19-2 lead and held a 37-17 halftime advantage. Bernalillo kept rotations players in and out and the lead was upped to 65-33 before Darnell emptied his bench. Guard Reyes Herrera scored 13 points that included a trio of 3, and 6-7 Solomon Fragus added 11. Diego Trujillo was the lone Elk in double figures, scoring 10.
The third place game went to Pecos (6-2), the defending state 3A champion, in a 87-62 rout over Santa Fe Indian School (5-6). In the contest for fifth place, it was Mora getting even at 4-4 by handing the Pojoaque junior varsity its first defeat in six starts, 68-51.
The Elks’ JV was called upon to step in when undermanned Desert Academy had only four available players and had to forfeit its game against Mora and exit the tournament.
Then there was the seventh place game won by Monte del Sol (5-3) by a 63-54 score over Penasco (2-8).