Home Sports Local Sports A new day for the Lady Coyotes

A new day for the Lady Coyotes

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Roswell’s Makenzie Tarin (32) scores two of her 24 points Saturday against Lovington at the Coyote Den. (David Rocha Photo)

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If the Roswell Lady Coyotes were on American Idol, what would they hear from Randy Jackson? “That’s how you do it, Roswell!” A game like this is a new Roswell basketball team. They were playing good basketball, exciting basketball and they were getting it up and down the court and letting the three-point shot fly.

Tarin, who clearly took over the game with her inside moves, not only was she dominant, but Clarissa Vega and Janae Faust took control on the defensive end of the floor as Roswell came from behind and had to hang on to win 40-38, over Lovington Saturday night at Coyote Den.

“Defensively, I thought we played our butts off to get the lead,” Roswell coach Fernando Sanchez said. “I thought our defense played a whole lot better at stretches in the second half. We gave up nine straight points late on the three-point shots, but great job by the girls.”

Roswell missed a lot of looks inside and out, but so what. In the end, it was because of their helter-skelter style of play that kept them in the game. Roswell’s press is starting to affect teams in a negative way and it finally catches up with teams in the second half.

Roswell turned the Lady Wildcats over 15 times in the final two quarters. On Saturday night, the Lady Coyotes finally played their best game of the season. Roswell coach finally let loose of the reins and let his team play their game.

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They didn’t look tentative about shooting or making a mistake. The team was horrible from three-point land throughout most of the game, but they kept playing and taking shots. Roswell has to like that if they are going to win this season, that’s how they are going to have to play, especially in district play.

Roswell coach Fernando Sanchez didn’t scream or overcoach. He didn’t pull a player for missing a shot or making a mistake, he was encouraging to the team and they responded by playing hard and never quitting.

One of the more pleasant surprises is that Sanchez has finally gotten his backcourt to not be afraid of taking the open three-point shot. Jalen Baca has to take the three-point shot when open, she shot it enough that Lovington played her to shoot it in the third quarter and she was able to put it on the floor and drive by them and loft a floater in the lane or find an open shooter. Baca is starting to assert herself and come out of her shell. She is pushing the ball and knows when to shoot. She is learning where to get the ball to her teammates. Her defense is excellent as she created multiple steals.

Some days the three-pointer will fall better than it did on Saturday night. Mercedes Velasco, Adriana Carroll and Mireya Grajeda are starting to find their stroke and should be encouraged to take the shot when open as they get their basketball legs. Once they hit some shots, their confidence will grow and it will open up the inside for the bigs like it did Saturday night.

Makenzie Tarin is starting to have herself a senior year. She is doing damage on the inside and she is starting to pick and pop the three-point shot. If she consistently adds that dimension to her game, the Coyotes will be tough to defend.

Goddard’s Ericca Cannon (4) reaches for possession of the ball earlier this month against Roswell in Artesia. Goddard finished off a 3-0 record at the Orange and Black Tournament in Clayton Saturday with a 70-32 win over Boys Ranch, Texas. The Lady Rockets (6-1) host Roswell Thursday night at 5:30 p.m. (J.T. Keith File Photo)

When Roswell went inside to her, Tarin would put a body on the Lady Wildcats, she would drop-step, or head fake and go straight up. Sometimes she would get blocked, sometimes she would miss and in the fourth quarter, Lovington was getting into foul trouble and running out of bodies to defend her.

Roswell trailed 20-14 at the intermission. Tarin and her teammates led a furious comeback until she hit the hoop and harm. Tarin converted a free throw giving Roswell a three-point play and their first lead of the game, 24-22 with 50.5 seconds left in the third quarter.

Roswell leads the third quarter 26-25 as Tarin scored 13 of the team’s next 14 points, as they stretched the lead to 36-31 with 2:13 to play in the game. The key moment of the game and possibly the early season was when Lovington came back to take the lead, 38-37 with 56.3 seconds left in the game.

Not one person hung their head or was down, instead, Sanchez called a time out.

“You have to give Roswell credit,” Lovington coach Wade Scott said. “They put pressure on us and extended us. We didn’t make some shots until late and that hurt us. They hung in there and figured us out. You just have to tip your hat to them.”

Roswell threw the ball into Vega who scored inside and was fouled. Vega hit the free-throw to give them a 39-38 lead with 50.5 seconds left to play. Roswell’s press forced a turnover. Roswell missed the free throw and had to survive Lovington’s Ashanti Vaughn’s two missed free throws.

Tarin put the finishing touches on her team-high 24 points and the win by hitting one of two free throws as they won, 40-38.

“Makenzie Tarin did a great job hitting free throws,” Sanchez said. “Jalen Baca played outstanding tonight. The whole team played great tonight and I’m happy with my team.”

Gateway boys and girls roundup

By Tom A. Ruiz
Special to RDR Sports

The Gateway girls defeated Alamo Navajo, 44-25, on Saturday in the Mescalero Tournament to win the consolation trophy. The Lady Warriors defeated Capitan on Friday, 44-38, after losing in the opening game on Thursday to tournament host Mescalero Apache, 59-19. MJ Stephens (23) made the all-tournament team. The Lady Warriors (6-2) play at NMMI Monday at 5 p.m. in their final game before winter break. (Submitted Photo)

MESCALERO — The Gateway Christian boys and girls varsity basketball teams took home their respective consolation trophies at the Mescalero basketball tournament Saturday in Mescalero. The Lady Warriors beat the Alamo Navajo Lady Cougars, 44-25. MJ Stephens was named to the girls’ all-tournament team. The Gateway Warriors survived the Alamo Navajo Cougars, 52-44 and Wes Tipton was named to the boys’ all-tournament team.

The Lady Warriors, 6-2, beat Jal, 44-38, on Friday to get to the consolation game on Saturday. The Lady Cougars proved to be a formidable opponent. However, the Lady Warriors jumped out to a 9-0 lead to start the game. They used a tenacious defense to hold the Lady Cougars scoreless until the 2:09 mark of the first period.

“The girls played very well on defense,” said Gateway coach Holly Tipton. I really thought we were going to run out of gas with the high altitude and some of our girls were sick, but we stuck it.”

Leading 12-2 heading into the second period, the Lady Cougars used a smothering defense of their own and forced Gateway into five turnovers, Alamo had found a rhythm and trimmed a 14-point lead to nine as the quarter ended.

It was only Stephens’ 13 points in the first half that kept Alamo at bay. In the third quarter, Gateway buckled down on defense. Alamo missed on eight consecutive shots with a Lady Warrior there to contest each shot. Alamo also committed 15 turnovers for the game and Sierra Fresquez came up with four of them — she finished with five points and Stephens was the team’s top scorer with 17.

Gateway plays at New Mexico Military Institute on Monday before the Christmas break. So, what will the team work on before taking on Jal on Jan. 11?

“I think what I want to work on is more man-on-man offense,” said Tipton.

With only two seniors on the team, leadership is going to be vital. Fresquez, a senior is the leader of the team.

“She’s our bell cow, that’s what my coach called it back in the day,” Tipton said affectionately. “If I don’t have her out there, it’s hard to run the team.”

Gateway boys 52, Alamo Navajo boys, 44

When a basketball game is played with brilliance and finesse, the great Picasso could have painted a masterpiece; when it’s not, a 3-year-old could do it with a crayon. The Warriors escaped with an eight-point win over Alamo in the fourth quarter, but before that happened, Gateway coach Jerryme Ledesma described his team’s performance as “sloppy throughout the game.”

“You got to be prepared mentally and emotionally. You can’t have your leaders not show up and not do their job,” he added. Although Gateway led 10-5 after the first quarter, Alamo played just as sloppy as Gateway did.

Case in point, as the second period began, the Cougars missed on 10 consecutive shots, but the Warriors turned the ball over 10 straight times, too. “I couldn’t believe this was our same team that played better the last couple of days. The Warriors toughed out an overtime win over Jal on Friday night to advance to the consolation round on Saturday.

Somehow, Gateway led 24-10 at the half, but Alamo outscored the warriors, 16-14, in the third period to set up the wild finish in the fourth period.

Gateway committed three turnovers on three of their four possessions to start the quarter and the Cougars made them pay for it with a ferocious half-court trap, which led to two turnovers and trimmed the Gateway lead to 38-30.

Gateway, 5-3, however, found a way to score — they went back up 46-32 with a key three-point dagger coming from Joe Waide. The Cougars were not dead yet, they outscored Gateway 12 to 6 and at one point, came within two points, 46-44, and only a missed three on their next possession, which could have given them the lead.

“Our freshmen pulled this one out for us,” Ledesma pointed out. “They made some mistakes but they played hard the whole way.”

Ledesma and the Warriors will get to their Christmas break. “We have some kids that are recovering from injuries and we’ll be a different basketball team when we get back,” he said. Gateway will be back in action on Jan. 11 against Jal.

Sports Editor’s Notes

Roswell played unafraid and free.

Roswell missed a lot of shots, but it’s the first time they have played this style all game.

Roswell has to continue to have fun and play loose.

Roswell coach Fernando Sanchez has mastered working the referees for calls at the end of games.

Roswell has to continue to shoot the three-point shot.

They missed a lot of easy looks around the basket and will have to get better.

They need to hit their free throws.

Defense keeps them in games.

The front line of Faust, Tarin and Vega is a strength.

Roswell found a team leader and point guard in Baca who is not afraid to take the three or put in on the floor and drive. Will continue to get better as she plays more.

Coach letting the team play without fear of being pulled for a mistake or missed shot.

Roswell spoiled Lovington coach Wade Scott’s return home — he played on Goddard’s boys’ only state title in 1988.