3A Girls Basketball Playoffs: Lady Chieftains fall short of state title in overtime to Portales 62-59

Joshua Perry The Daily Times
The Daily Times

ALBUQUERQUE — The Shiprock girls basketball team finished one win short of its ultimate goal.

No. 3 Portales knocked off the No. 1 Lady Chieftains in overtime 62-59 to claim the 3A championship and end Shiprock's run at a perfect season on Friday at The Pit in Albuquerque.

The Lady Rams (25-5) hit 7-of-12 free-throw attempts in overtime to survive Shiprock's comeback attempt and win their first state championship since 2006.

The Lady Chiefs had a final attempt to tie the game in overtime, but turned the ball over with just a few seconds remaining.

"There's a lot of heart and soul (involved) with playing basketball for Shiprock," head coach Larenson Henderson said. "It's hitting them hard."

Shiprock (29-1) also had chances to lock up the win in regulation.

Tanisha Begay scored five of her 10 points in the final minute with a 3-pointer and two free throws to give Shiprock a 55-52 lead with 40 seconds left.

Portales answered with a layup to cut the lead to one and then tied the game at 55 after making one of two free throws, following a missed front end of a one-and-one by Taylor Henderson.

Henderson had a wide-open look from just behind the 3-point line at the buzzer but the shot came up short, sending the game into its extra session.

The Lady Rams repeatedly attacked the basket and were rewarded with trips to the free-throw line, allowing them to win the game, despite having zero field goal attempts in overtime.

"I feel like we have some mismatch advantages on most people," Portales head coach Wade Fraze said. "We definitely want to try to take advantage of those and try to score or get to the line."

Portales hit 28-of-45 free throws, compared to 11-of-18 by Shiprock.

"Wish we could have got the same calls," Larenson Henderson said. "It was a big difference. I don't understand that."

The Lady Rams opened the game with a 12-3 run to get the early advantage, but Shiprock answered with a 16-2 run of its own in the first half to take a 29-25 lead into halftime.

Portales answered back with a strong third quarter to tie the game at 40 heading into the fourth.

"We knew that Shiprock is an awesome program with an awesome team. They wouldn't be where they are with the record they have without being excellent," Fraze said. "We knew it would be battle for four quarters."

Shiprock struggled from 3-point range all game, making just 6-of-25 attempts. The Lady Rams were held without a 3-pointer, missing all five tries.

The Lady Chiefs also had a hard time adjusting to the Lady Rams' aggressive defense. Shiprock turned the ball over 23 times, compared to just 16 from Portales.

Kambrey Blakey led the way for the Lady Rams with 23 points, including 11-of-16 from the free-throw line, and 14 rebounds.

Sheraya Cox added 17 for Portales.

Henderson led Shiprock with 13 points, including 3-of-7 from 3-point range.

Shontai Grey finished with 12 points and six rebounds for the Lady Chiefs.

The Lady Chiefs last won the state title in 2002 and have lost their last three championship appearances, falling in 2010 and 2011.

Shiprock will graduate its entire starting five, Henderson, Shania Harry, Ashley John, Courtney Steele and Aranxta Curley.

"They were determined to come back and win it all, and I think this one is going to hurt them," Larenson Henderson said. "But this is part of growing up and is a good lesson for them."

Josh Perry covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648 and Follow him @jperrysuu on Twitter