Home Sports Local Sports Lady Coyotes to take on St. Pius X

Lady Coyotes to take on St. Pius X

Cheyenne Martinez scores as the clock expires as Roswell defeated Lovington at the Coyote Den. (Arnold Roe Photo)

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There is light at the end of the tunnel for the top 16 teams in 5A basketball. No matter what has happened until now, the main thing was to be one of the top 16 teams to have a chance to win a state title. In a regular season that went to overtime, with Goddard having to play Artesia at a neutral site to determine a regular-season champion: which Artesia won.

Nothing was settled for the district tournament championship as Goddard went on the road and pulled a 45-41 upset at the Bulldog Pit to give Goddard their first district tournament championship under coach Jared Neighbors.

For Roswell coach Sanchez, this has been one of the most gratifying years, in that he has had to tinker with different lineups, stay up late at night and read in order to put his team in the best possible light to win games. He adjusted to the talent he had and played more players than he did earlier in the season. The result is that his team became coaches on the floor in crucial situations as they continue to develop and play their best basketball.

The Lady Coyotes are the only team to have defeated the reigning state champions twice in a season. Roswell had them on the ropes but ran out of gas as they could only score two points in their final loss of the season, 33-28.

At the beginning of the season, if anyone told Roswell’s coach Fernando Sanchez that his Lady Coyotes would be the No. 13 seed and have to travel and take on No. 4 seed St. Pius X on Friday, he would have signed up for that all day long.

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In a season in which Roswell lost Gatorade Player of the Year in Jaedyn De La Cerda, along with senior captains Deavion Allen, Sheyanne Sandoval and Melanie Martinez, from a final-four team that lost in the semifinal game last year to Goddard, 54-52.

With graduation and injuries hitting Roswell, they proceeded to lose five games in a row to Mayfield, 59-38; Onate, 53-42; Carlsbad, 49-24; Mayfield again 49-24; and Centennial, 54-47. Before they got a much-needed win against Alamogordo, 39-32, to go 9-9 down the stretch and 3-3 in district play just to qualify for the tournament. The 5A district has seen all four teams make it into the dance: Goddard, Artesia, Lovington and Roswell.

“I think our district getting four teams in is great,” coach Sanchez said. “Our district is the most competitive from top to bottom. That helps moving forward. We are really battle-tested and know what we have to do moving forward. Our district has the last two state championships. I believe it has more than prepared us for the state tournament. Anything can happen, and we have to come out with some passion and fire.”

For Roswell, it comes down to a survive and advance mentality, and it starts Friday night. The Lady Coyotes are going to have to do something they have yet to do this season, and that’s win more than two games in a row.

The Sartans finished the regular season at 18-8, and 5-3 in the district. They look to point forward 5-foot-10 Taylor Reed. Reed is a physical player and looks to score inside when she gets the ball down low. St. Pius X also has Arianna Martinez, a 6-foot-1 space eater who blocks and tries to intimidate opponents.

They have junior Marissa Lovato at 5-11 and Addyson Funchess at 5-10. It is no secret that the Sartans want to play a slowdown half-court game and go inside to their big players and try to get the Lady Coyotes in foul trouble. St. Pius X’s best player may be Maya Trujillo, who is a 5-foot-7 guard who can shoot it.

St. Pius X is a heavy two-man team that can and will trap out of their man defense. Sometimes they will give teams different looks to confuse other teams and create turnovers in certain spots.

“We are really going to have to get some great play from our interior,” coach Sanchez said, “from players like MacKenzie Tarin and Alexandra Gonzalez are going to have to rebound and defend a very physical interior game from St. Pius X. Girls like Kaitlyn Holl and Cheyenne Martinez are going to have to make an impact by helping rebound and defend the interior.”

To counter the length of the Spartans, the Lady Coyotes are going to have to push pace and knock down some three-balls to open up their inside game, and spread the court so the slashing Holl, Martinez and Gonzalez have room to work inside the paint.

“The one thing we know we have to do,” coach Sanchez said, “to increase our chance of winning is be very disciplined, both offensively and defensively. We have to make sure we take care of the ball, rebound and hit a few shots.”

This is Sanchez’s second appearance at state since he has taken over the reins for former head coach Joe Carpenter two years ago.

Roswell plays at 7 p.m. at St. Pius X High School Friday.

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