The pace was furious, the attacks were relentless and the scoring was abundant as the Peñasco Lady Panthers continued their winning ways, defeating the Questa Lady Cats 76-42 in first round action at Jicarita Peñasco Gymnasium March 2.
Peñasco jumped out to a very early lead – scoring 10 points in under two minutes – and embarked on a wire-to-wire victory tour that could be described as “smooth sailing.”
The Lady Cats managed to inch back into contention after a timeout was called by Questa coach, Steve Rael at the 6:08 mark in the first period. His rally call was answered by the Lady Cats who cut the lead to five with about three minutes left in the stanza. A three point shot made by Peñasco's Bianca Contreras at the 2:50 mark, however, stopped the Questa comeback and proved the be the turning point of the game. A plethora of points would ensue as the lead would swell throughout the game: 10 points at the end of the first period, 21 at half, 39 at the end of the third quarter and 34 at the end of regulation.
The Lady Panthers came into the contest ranked third among Class 2A teams, and hosted the Lady Cats who made it into the post season tournament as the number 14 seed. This was the third meeting of the two cross-county foes in as many weeks, and the fifth time this season Questa and Peñasco faced each other. In all five contests, the Lady Panthers have come out on top.
We really wanted to come out strong and get to the next level of state for our senior,” said sophomore guard Adrianna Tafoya, alluding to teammate Estrella Gonzalez who is the only senior on the team. “Our plan was to be aggressive and get to the basket.”
With the win the Lady Panthers advance to the quarterfinals of the state tournament, which will be held at Bernalillo High School March 6. Peñasco will take on the (6) Magdalena Lady Steers, who knocked off the (11) To'hajiilee Lady Warriors, 47-37. Game time is 6:30 p.m. and fans are reminded that the cost to enter all venues (Bernalillo High School, Santa Ana Star Center and Dreamstyle Arena, aka The Pit) from now on will be $10.
The Questa Lady Cats finish their season with a 13-16 overall record. At the end of the game, the two Taos County teams gathered hand-in-hand at the center of the court in solidarity – offering words of encouragement and an extra congratulatory hug. The outward display of sportsmanship was the result of an organized effort by players and coaches to show respect for each other.
The gesture was a fantastic end to a great night of Northern New Mexico basketball.