By Dave Wagner
CMI SPORTS WRITER
RIO RANCHO — Everybody pretty much struggled to find the basket during the first half of Thursday’s Texico-Laguna Acoma Class 2A state girls semifinal on Thursday at Santa Ana Star Center — everybody, that is, except sophomore forward Brianna Reyna.
Fortunately for the Lady Wolverines, they had Reyna, who by the intermission already had a double-double.
Reyna eventually fouled out with 16 points and 13 rebounds, but Texico held on down the stretch for a 35-26 win over the Lady Hawks to advance to today’s 5:30 p.m. final.
The Lady Wolverines (20-7) will meet second-seeded Tularosa (24-4), which needed overtime to turn back district rival and sixth-seeded Hatch Valley 71-61 in the first semifinal.
Reyna scored on a short bank shot on the game’s first possession, then made it 4-0 with a steal and layup 90 seconds in for a lead Texico would never relinquish.
The Lady Wolverines struggled to 12-for-36 shooting, but hounded Laguna Acoma (24-6) into an 8-for-55 performance from the field.
“We lost five seniors off last year’s (state semifinalist), but this team has really done what I’ve asked them to do,” Texico coach Richard Luscombe said. “Now were seeing it pay dividends.”
Laguna Acoma, smaller than the Lady Wolverines, couldn’t get its outside shots going. The Lady Hawks’ leading scorer, senior guard Lacey Natseway, made an early 3 that bounced high off the rim and fell in, but that was her only basket and she finished 1-for-17 from the field.
“Every team we’ve played has had pressure on me, but they were good (defensively),” said Natseway, a fifth-year starter for Laguna. “If I did get open, someone else always seemed to pop up (on defense).”
Thanks to 12 points and 11 rebounds for Reyna, Texico led 20-13 at the break. She was 5-for-9 from the field (including two missed 3-pointers), while everyone else on both teams combined to go 6-for-44.
Senior guard Shelby Vannatta hit two 3s and finished with nine points for Texico,
Reyna picked up two fouls in the first quarter, then none until she got three in a span of seven minutes bridging the third and fourth quarters.
“I was just a little frustrated at myself, more than anything,” Reyna said. “I know how much the team relies on me. That (fouling out) kind of hit me hard, but I had faith in my teammates.”
Vannatta’s second 3 in the first minute of the final period made it 29-16. Texico was able to hold on despite getting only two more field goals — both by junior guard Sarah Daniels — the rest of the way.
“We gave it our best shot,” said Lady Hawks coach Randy Hunt, whose team lost to Navajo Prep in last year’s 2A title game. “Texico was just a little better today than we prepared for.”
Senior forward Taylor Sarracino led the Lady Hawks with six points.
Luscombe said Tularosa will make the Lady Wolverines take care of the ball.
“They’re a pressure-oriented team,” he said. “We’re going to have to handle that, and their little guard, (Kyanne) Kowatch, is one of the better guards in the state. We’ll have to keep her from penetrating.”