In a rematch of a 2012 Round of 16 game, No. 10 Navajo Prep squared off with No. 7 Dexter with the right to play No. 2 Texico hanging in the balance.
Dexter (19-8) controlled play in the first half, but the Lady Eagles (14-12) answered in the third and fourth quarters by outscoring 28-16 in the final 16 minutes to take a 51-44 win.
"We made some adjustments at halftime with our defense," said Prep head coach Rainy Crisp. "We were getting beat on the ball and were focusing on their guards a lot. Then their post players got going. We decided to focus on the post players in the second half and tightened up our defense. It led to good steals that turned into easy buckets for us."
Leilani Howe led Navajo Prep with 16 points in the game.
Jasmine Coleman had 11 points, seven assists and four steals in the game for the Lady Eagles.
Crisp was thrilled with the way the Lady Eagles came together after a disappointing loss to Zuni in the District 1-2A semifinals.
"We didn't want to end our season the way we ended against Zuni in district. It was great for us to get to state," Crisp said. "It was a long drive to Dexter, and they have a very tough place to play in with great fan support behind them and a good coaching staff. Our girls came in focused, determined and hungry. They didn't want to lose this game.
It was a team win with our team defense from the starting five all the way to my bench. Every one played tonight."
The quarterfinal matchup for Navajo Prep won't be easy as the Lady Eagles once again have to face No. 2 Texico (20-8), who beat No. 15 Ramah 60-15 on Friday night.
"We can never catch a break going against Texico early in the state tournament," Crisp said. "We have to face them no matter how far we go, so we might as well see them now. Texico knows how to win. They are a state title team that plays well under pressure. We just have to bring everything we did tonight and multiply it by two against Texico. It will be a more physical game, and Texico is a slower-paced team. Our halfcourt defense has to step it up big time.
"We can't back down from Texico. We can't be out of it before we start the game. We need to go in there and know what it takes to beat them."