By Eric Butler
TEXICO — Grady was burned once by Floyd’s Corina Mendoza. They weren’t about to let it happen again.
Mendoza hit six 3-pointers in their first meeting between the two teams, a 20-point Grady win.
In the second go-round, Grady put the clamps on Floyd’s senior sharpshooter en route to a 74-49 win in the opening round of the EPAC Tournament at the Texico Sports Arena.
“I felt that we played better tonight than the first time we played them,” Grady coach Alicia Rush said. “If you leave her (Mendoza) open, she’ll hit ’em on you. We played man (defense) almost the whole time just to shut that down.”
Grady (9-3) didn’t allow Mendoza to score in the first half and, in fact, only allowed four shots by the Broncos’ guard.
Meanwhile, Grady rolled to a 13-4 advantage in the first quarter behind a balanced scoring attack.
Eventually, Grady opened up a 29-point margin at the end of the third period. Taris Pond and Stephanie Bailey led Grady with 18 points each.
Grady also got 12 points and a game-high seven rebounds from sophomore Heather Blackburn as well as 11 points and five boards from sister Jennifer Blackburn.
“I think we played about the same in this game, except that we improved our rebounding a lot,” said Pond, a junior. “I think we have a good chance (in the tournament) if we do a good job and don’t fall asleep. It’s a good chance to see how we rank with the other teams.”
Floyd (7-5) began to threaten consistently on the offensive end in the third period.
Trailing 53-26 after three periods, Floyd outscored 12-3 to begin the fourth and eventually closed to 63-47 in the late going.
Mendoza hit a pair of 3s in the fourth quarter for Floyd. Cindy Andrade’s 12 points led Floyd.
“It’s different when you’re down 26 points and you get wide-open looks. But those are the kind of looks and aggressiveness we need in the first quarter when we’re in the ballgame,” Floyd coach Sean Wootton said. “We’ve got a young club and those are the mistakes we’re going to make right now.”