RIO RANCHO, N.M.
It wasn’t a perfect game, but it was close to one.
In the Class 3A quarterfinals of New Mexico high school basketball state championships, where the No. 3 Tohatchi met the No. 6 Tucumcari, the Lady Cougars came up with the strong 84-47 victory the only way they knew how – executing to near perfection.
Tohatchi head coach Tanisha Bitsoi said her team put together a near complete game for the win, just as they had throughout most of the season.
“Our defense, we talk about that, we stress that all season. Our identity is our defense, and when we pressure and we can get teams to turn the ball over, it’s to our advantage,” she said. “And when they (Tohatchi) get the ball across and they (Tucumcari) set their defense, we were able to shoot the ball well. We shot the ball very well today…I think the girls executed in every way that we’ve been preparing them.”
Their overall strengths became apparent in the first half alone.
Tohatchi came out with a small lead that they held on to for the entire game. They held Tucumcari to 11 points in the first quarter and led 26-11.
In the second quarter, they added another 20 points to lead 46-22 at the half.
Going into the game, Tohatchi starter Cheyenne Begay said the focus was to use their defense to get ahead in every way possible.
“We heard that they had good ball handlers, just like we had good ball handers, but if we capitalized on them early then they’ll start to fall apart,” she said.
Fall apart Tucumcari did, at least in the second quarter. But the Rattlers weren’t going down without a fight.