By Eric Butler: PNT Correspondent
SANTA ROSA — Just call them the unofficial champs of the Route 66 Holiday Tournament, those Elida Tigers. Although the girls four-team basketball tourney was
technically a round-robin event, with each school facing the other three squads once, the Tigers proved themselves the queens of their temporary northern domain by beating all comers.
On Saturday, Elida (9-1) finished off the three-day event by defeating host Tucumcari 41-32. On Thursday, the Tigers routed Class 2A Mesa Vista 63-11 and then, on Friday, knocked off Class 3A member Raton 45-28.
The finale saw Elida, which was led by Jewlie Paiz’ 11, move out to leads as large as 12 points twice late in the first half. When Alicia Cross Smith put back in a Paiz miss with five seconds left in the second quarter, the Tigers had a 26-14 advantage.
Then came the second half.
A mistake-riddled affair for both teams, the third and fourth quarters featured 3-for-22 shooting and 20 turnovers from the host Rattlers and, only slightly better, 5-for-22 field goal marksmanship and 19 turnovers for the Tigers.
For the game, the teams combined for 62 turnovers and, bringing the shooting woes to the charity stripe as well, hit only 23 of 61 free throw attempts.
“I’m horse (from yelling) after that one. We just kind of slopped it around and hung on for the win,” Elida coach Dan Howard said.
The lead was whittled all the way down to only four points, at 32-28, after an 8-0 Tucumcari (4-3) run in the final quarter.
But Cross Smith’s free throw, with 4:40 remaining, ended the Rattlers’ streak and her short bank shot, 37 seconds later, was Elida’s first made shot from the floor since Brittney Jasso’s layup at the end of the third quarter.
Morgan McBride, battling Tucumcari’s bigger inside players, scored seven points and hauled down seven rebounds for the Tigers. Nikki Jasso, Brittney Jasso and Lindsey Ward all added six apiece for Elida.
“We were outsized by quite a bit, but that’s okay,” Paiz said. “You just have to stay behind them, try not to foul and go straight up if you get beat, try not to slap ‘em.”
“It was a great effort; we’re a little bit shorthanded here tonight,” Howard said. “We have about three girls out. It kind of hurt us a little bit as far as ballhandling. It was a great experience for these girls off the bench — I’m glad I got to play them.”
Tucumcari was led by T’Shana Span’s 11 points while fellow Rattler Brandi Arenas scored seven in the loss.
The Tigers, who also beat the Rattlers in the opening game of their season, made the back-and-forth trip every day to Tucumcari for the tournament.
“It’s a good feeling to go out and work hard. You come together more as a team the longer you play together,” said Paiz, who transfered to Elida from Floyd at the end of the 2004-05 school year. “I got to know the girls a little bit at the end of last year, got to know how they played and their habits.”
Elida was also well represented in the eight-team boys tournament in Tucumcari. The Tigers defeated Dexter 50-41 on Saturday in the third-place game.
Coronado 55, Floyd 50
Alfred Jaramillo led three players in double figures with 24 points as Coronado held off the Broncos.
Robert Salazar had 15 and Jaime Cruz 12 for Coronado, which outscored Floyd 18-11 in the third.
“They were really quick,” Floyd coach Rafael Roybal said. “The game was close. Once they got the lead, they spread it out. We’re not quite ready to play good man-to-man against the spread.
Jesus Davalos led the Broncos with 18 points and Kyle Kropf added 14. The Broncos are off until a Dec. 30 doubleheader at Logan.