By Arnie Leshin
Shorthanded and playing at Toby Roybal Memorial gymnasium, St. Michael’s came close to getting past red-hot neighbor Santa Fe High before the Demonettes won their third-straight via the 45-40 route Tuesday night.
It was the ninth overall win for head coach Nate Morris’ girls, who have a non-district game Friday against Gallup before heading into District 5-5A play versus Albuquerque High next week.
“I think this team is starting to peak,” said Morris, “We are halfway through our season and we’re right where we want to be, so we’re in good shape.”
But surprisingly, the Lady Horsemen hung around in this non-district contest despite having their head coach, Sonya Ruiz, and two key players sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols. St. Michael’s, now 5-11, also had two other players out with injuries.
Assistant coach Sara Baca filled in for Ruiz, and she kept her team close the entire way. Down 42-40 in the final minute, the Lady Horsemen had a chance to tie it or take the lead, but failed to do so. Juniors Lauryn Pecos and Carmen Pacheco had 13 points each for the visitors.
“Full credit to the kids,” Baca said, “because they’re doing a tremendous job pulling it together, especially since we’ve been so shorthanded.”
Santa Fe High scored the game’s first eight points and led by as many as 13 in the first half, but a six-minute scoring drought in the third quarter allowed St. Michael’s to climb back into it with a burst of a 10-0 run.
Kabreya Garcia, who led the Demonettes with the game-high 15 points, secured the win with a trio of free throws in the last 24 seconds and put her team at 9-6 overall.
“Yeah, we struggled a little,” Morris said, “but we also did some things I’m happy with. It’s on to the next one, that’s all we can do.”