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Lady Dogs get some home cooking this week

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ARTESIA — “We had a good trip up north and played three good quality teams.”

That’s how Jeff Houghtaling the head girls basketball coach at Artesia High School summed up the Lady Dogs play last week during the Los Lunas Holiday Tournament, which took place at Valencia High School.

The Lady Dogs lost the opening day contest to Bloomfield. “We played well enough to win,” Houghtaling said. “We had a poor shooting performance from the free throw line and that hindered our effort down the stretch.”

The loss sent Artesia to the consolation side of the bracket, where they played Gadsden and defeated them and on the final day of the tournament the Lady Dogs tangled with Santa Fe in the consolation championship.

“Another good quality 6-A opponent,” Houghtaling said. “We played well, I thought we played well enough to win, but we got into overtime but we lost by three points (48-45).”

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“Overall I thought we did a lot of things well. I thought the girls handled the trip well,” he said.

After taking a break for New Year’s Day, Artesia ( 5-5) gets back into action tonight hosting Portales (11-2) at 7 p.m. at the Bulldog Pit.

“We’ve got a really tough week,” Houghtaling said. “As far as playing three games this week, I think it’s really good for us.”

Now that the season is heading into fourth gear, Houghtaling said his team will be dealing with three to four games a week between now and the time district play starts later this month.

“I think the quality of opponents can be good for us,” he said.

Regarding tonight’s opponent, Houghtaling said. “Portales maybe the best 4A team in the state. They’re really good and senior loaded. They have a great combination in size and guard play.”

Friday night, Clovis comes to Artesia. The Wildcats play Lubbock-Coronado tonight in Clovis.

Houghtaling said Clovis is a “solid team.” “I think year in and year out, Clovis is one of the best 6-A teams in the state in girls basketball. So I think it will be a real good one.”

Then Saturday, Artesia hits the road to Deming for a 3:30 p.m. matinee.

“I think it’s going to be a great week for us,” Houghtaling said. “I think there’s lots of things we could talk about this week, with not much time in between games. So I think this allows us to develop a short memory, which is sometimes good in this part of the season.”

Houghtaling added, “I think its going to be a real valuable week in terms of experience (with) more time spent together as a team.”

After spending the weekend in Roswell, the Artesia Bulldogs head to Gallup later this week for the Gallup Invitational.

Last week the Bulldogs (6-4) went 2-1 in the Poe Corn Tournament. On the opening night, Artesia edged Los Alamos 52-43. Friday night the Roswell Coyotes took a bite out of the Bulldogs 69-53 and then on Saturday afternoon Artesia rebounded by defeating fellow district foe Lovington 47-36.

“It was a good weekend for us,” Michael Mondragon Artesia head coach said. “Right now we’re banged up and we’re hurt and battling a lot of the flu, anytime you win games and you’re not 100 percent, it’s a good thing.”

Mondragon said the Bulldogs are doing some good things and some players have been stepping up. “We’re just ready to get healthy and get ready to rock-and-roll this week in Gallup.”

The Bulldogs play Deming in the opening round on Thursday.

“Deming is very scrappy,” he said. “They’re not gonna be as big as we are, but they play hard.”

After doing some more research on the Wildcats, Mondragon added. “They’re very athletic. They’ve always had good athletes, so I think they’re going to try and press us quite a bit.”

The Bulldogs and Wildcats are also paired with Window Rock and Gallup-Miyamura.

The other side of the bracket has Gallup, Tohatchi, Sandia Prep and Wingate.

Mondragon said the Gallup is favored to win the tournament.

“I’m really proud of our guys and what we’ve done so far, there’s a lot of guys that are doing a lot of great things,” Mondragon said.

Artesia will host Chaparral on Jan. 9.