ALBUQUERQUE — The Melrose Lady Buffaloes gave it a shot Tuesday against the top seed Tatum, but came up short.
Now the Elida Lady Tigers will have a crack at the top seed in the Class 1A girls state basketball tournament.
Tatum, which went unbeaten in winning the 1A volleyball championship in November, won its 29th consecutive basketball game since a three-point loss at Texico in the season opener with a 47-27 victory over Melrose in a quarterfinal matchup at Del Norte High School.
Elida got a go-ahead free throw from senior Kodi Armitage with 16 seconds left and held on for a 39-38 win over Des Moines in the second quarterfinal matchup.
The Lady Tigers (25-2) meet Tatum in a 3:15 p.m. semifinal on Thursday at Del Norte. The championship game will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at The Pit on the campus of the University of New Mexico.
Armitage grabbed the rebound on a missed Des Moines free throw and was fouled with 20 seconds left. She missed the one-and-one, but Elida got the ball back on an alternate possession after freshman Morgan McBride forced a held ball.
Armitage was fouled again on the inbounds play, and this time sank the first of two free throws. On Des Moines’ possession, junior Lindsey Ward took a charge against the Lady Demons’ Amaris Newkirk as time expired.
Ward came off the bench to get a personal-best 12 points for Elida.
The Lady Demons (25-5), who won three consecutive 1A titles from 2002-04 before losing in last year’s finals to Fort Sumner, were led by 16 points from Newkirk and 14 from 6-foot-1 senior center Kelli Goodan.
Goodan, though, was plagued by fouls. She picked up her fourth personal late in the third quarter and fouled out with just over a minute left in regulation.
Elida coach Dan Howard said the 5-10 Armitage played well defensively on Goodan, with help from McBride and Janice Taylor.
The Lady Tigers led 10-4 early in the second quarter, but Des Moines scored the final six points of the half for a 16-14 lead. Des Moines broke away from a 24-24 tie after three quarters for a six-point lead early in the fourth before Elida turned up its pressure defense and mounted a comeback.
“We got off to a pretty good start, but it was kind of hot in the gym and I think it got to us a little bit,” Howard said. “I thought our defense played good for most of the game.”
Melrose fell behind 7-0 early, but rallied to a 7-7 tie by quarter’s end against Tatum. The Lady Coyotes, though, dominated the second period, building a 10-point halftime lead.
“We turned the ball over a little bit and gave up a few too many offensive rebounds,” Lady Buffs coach Jason Lee said of the second quarter. “But I thought we controlled the tempo. We gave ourselves a shot, anyway.”
Melrose (13-18) was still within 10 points early in the final period before the Lady Coyotes pulled away. Senior forward Sage Jones scored 12 points to pace a balanced attack for Tatum, which didn’t make a 3-pointer but helped itself with a 17-for-22 performance from the free throw line.
Junior Zanessa Dodd scored eight points to lead the Lady Buffaloes.
“I was proud of our kids,” Lee said. “They played hard, and played like they believed they could win. We just made too many mistakes to beat a good team.”