ALBUQUERQUE — Shiprock came to The Pit ready to make a statement after believing their team had been underseeded.
In the quarterfinals against Taos, a statement was made.
The No. 4 Lady Chieftains (24-3) advanced to the 3A semifinals with a 52-34 victory over the No. 5 Lady Tigers on Tuesday at The Pit in Albuquerque.
Shiprock head coach Larenson Henderson mentioned he didn’t receive any information on Taos prior to the game, but that didn’t hinder the Lady Chiefs’ performance.
“I didn’t see anything on Taos. I didn’t get anything on them,” Henderson said. “I feel like if we get out there and do what we’re supposed to do, the game will take care of itself.”
After a tight first quarter, the Shiprock defense held the Lady Tigers without a field goal in the second to take a 25-17 lead into halftime.
“I thought they were very active with their hands and their feet,” said Taos head coach Robert Trujillo of Shiprock. “They did their homework … You have to give it to them. They are a great team with a lot of experience.”
Taos shot 0-for-4 from the field and committed 10 turnovers in the second quarter as the Lady Chiefs pressure stifled the Lady Tigers.
“We tried to just stay down on defense — no fouls,” said Shiprock guard Shania Harry.
Shiprock put the game away in the third quarter, outscoring Taos 17-10 in the frame to push its lead to 42-27.
Taos was unable to mount any comeback in the final quarter as the Lady Chiefs locked up their place in the semis.
Taylor Henderson led Shiprock in scoring with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field.
Courtney Steele added 11 points and eight rebounds for the Lady Chiefs.
Steele and Chiashonya Nelson played big roles in the paint, helping Shiprock to a 37-29 advantage in the rebounding department.
“That was surprising for me,” Larenson Henderson said of his team's advantage on the glass. “Courtney and Chiashonya can sometimes step up and play huge like that. I was happy with that today.”
Shania Harry added nine points and Geovonia Harry chipped in eight in the victory.
Marisol Martinez led Taos with 13 points, but hit just 3-of-9 from the field.
Shiprock held the Lady Tigers to just 27 percent from the field on 9-of-33 shooting, while hitting 42 percent of their shots.
“They pressured us and, at times, we weren’t ready for it,” Martinez said the Tigers’ shooting woes. “We should have kicked it inside more.”
Taos had a big advantage at the free-throw line, making 16-of-26, while the Lady Chiefs only attempted eight, making six.
Arantxa Curley had four of the Lady Chiefs’ 14 assists; Taos only had four assists total as a team.
Both teams struggled from 3-point range with Shiprock hitting just 2-for-17, Taos going 0-for-6.
Shiprock will meet the top seed and state title favorite Hope Christian (26-3) in the semifinals after the Huskies blew out No. 9 Socorro 66-29 in their quarterfinal.
Larenson Henderson thinks limiting Hope Christian’s transition opportunities will be key to Shiprock pulling off an upset victory.
“Let’s see what they can do if we stop their running game,” he said. “I feel like they haven’t played a team like us that has guards that can run the floor and play defense. It’s going to be interesting.”
The semifinal matchup is scheduled for Thursday at 8 a.m. in The Pit.
Joshua Perry may be reached at email@example.com or 505-564-4577. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.