Aztec comes up short against Gallup

Karl Schneider

AZTEC – The Aztec girls basketball team gave Gallup all it could handle, but the Lady Tigers came up short in a 76-69 loss Saturday night at Lillywhite Gym.

Aztec head coach Robert McCaskill was proud of how the Lady Tigers maintained their composure in a close game, but said they didn’t execute as well as normal.

“There was a lot of fundamental things that we normally do that we didn’t do tonight — cuts without a screen that led to a basket, not taking care of the ball and committing turnovers,” McCaskill said.

Throughout the night, Aztec guard Elana Kresl dribbled through Gallup’s defense, whether it was a full-court press, half-court trap or basic man-to-man to create easy layups.

Aztec's Elana Kresl takes a shot against Gallup on Saturday at Lillywhite Gym in Aztec.

But as good as Kresl was at weaving through the Lady Bengals (23-0, 5-0 District 1-5A), Aztec failed to convert numerous easy scoring opportunities.

“We took them out of their main press and got them where we wanted them, but we didn’t finish them off,” McCaskill said. “We missed at least 30 points on layups. We got a lot (of layups) but we missed a bunch, too.”

Aztec's Jesse Gillentine (11) collides with Gallup's Rhiannon Singer during a game on Saturday at Lillywhite Gym in Aztec.

Aztec (18-7, 4-3) led 17-12 after the first quarter, but Gallup started the second quarter on a 10-0 run and led 36-30 at halftime.

Aztec kept Gallup within 10 points the rest of the way, but was never able to get within 5 points of the Lady Bengals.

On the night, the two sides were called for 51 total fouls and combined to shoot 73 free throws, 37 of which came in the fourth quarter.

Aztec finished the night 21 for 35 from the stripe while the Lady Bengals went 21 for 38.

McCaskill said that at this point in the season, the Lady Tigers’ struggles at the free-throw line should not be an issue.

“They’re no longer a young team,” McCaskill said. “I’ve been preaching all year that we’re young, but that we’re going to keep building. When you have experience time and time again in the big games that we’ve had, you should be used to it. We should be used to it and walk up to the line like we normally do.”

Kresl led Aztec with 25 points. Makayla McCaskill and Grace Olson added 14 points each.

Aztec will host Miyamura (8-15, 0-6) on Thursday.

Piedra Vista 71, Miyamura 34

Piedra Vista dictated its game against Miyamura (8-15, 0-6) from the opening tip to the final buzzer and rolled past the Lady Patriots 71-34 Saturday night at the Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

“From basically the beginning to the end, we had our press working pretty well,” PV head coach Joe Reed said. “We didn’t have the greatest offensive performances tonight, but we found a way to get it done in the end with a bunch of different players contributing.”

Monique Russell led the Lady Panthers (16-7, 4-3) with 15 points. Nykki Benally and Elli Wright added 14 points each. Benally also recorded nine rebounds and nine assists.

PV will play at Farmington (10-11, 2-4) on Saturday. A PV will secure a second-place finish in District 1-5A for the Lady Panthers.

“We have a big game against Farmington. There’s still a lot on the line for seeding and playing your rival,” Reed said. “It’s going to be a tough game, and we know Farmington is going to be ready to play.”

Farmington 33, West Mesa 25

Farmington earned a quality win over West Mesa, fighting off the Lady Mustangs for a nondistrict 33-25 victory Saturday afternoon in Albuquerque.

“They (the Lady Mustangs) slowed the ball down completely. We tried to push the tempo and finally broke it open in the third quarter,” Farmington head coach Danny Secrest said.

Defensively, the Lady Scorps (10-11) sat in a zone to counter West Mesa’s size in the post. In the zone defense, Farmington forced the Lady Mustangs (10-12) to shoot from the outside, which they struggled with.

Nine players scored for Farmington, with Brighton Clah leading the way with 9 points.

Farmington will play at Gallup (23-0, 5-0) on Thursday.

“We need to have a little energy. That’s our key goal, to have a little enthusiasm,” Secrest said. “Gallup is one of the best teams in the state, but I think there’s a shot for anyone to win at state, and that’s what we’re trying to focus on.”