RIO RANCHO — One big-time spurt was enough to carry the defending Class 2A state champion Texico Lady Wolverines on Thursday.
Trailing 10-7 late in the first quarter, Texico went on an 18-0 run over a six-minute span and weathered some rough spots down the stretch for a 53-38 semifinal win over Dulce at Santa Ana Star Center.
Texico (26-2) will face second-seeded Navajo Pine (24-6) in today’s 6 p.m. championship game at The Pit in Albuquerque. The Lady Wolverines are seeking its fourth state title in five years and seventh since 2000.
Junior guard Jordyn Cooper scored 17 points and added six steals, four rebounds and four assists for Texico, while 6-foot-1 sophomore Shaylee Anderson had 12 points and three blocks and Jordyn’s twin, junior guard Jaylyn Cooper, finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.
“You’ve got to give Dulce a lot of credit,” Texico coach Keith Durham said. “They played hard for 32 minutes.
“I was proud of our girls, because it was tough. We just gritted our teeth, and we were fortunate to come out on top.”
Dulce (16-13), seeded 13th in the 16-team field, overcame a 5-0 deficit to lead 10-7 on a short bank shot by senior forward Chrisiana Yepa with less than two minutes left in the opening quarter.
“I don’t think we were playing as hard as them (early),” Jaylyn Cooper said. “It took us a while to get going.”
Two rebound baskets by Jaylyn Cooper put Texico in front at the quarter, and she hit a 3-pointer early in the second period for a 14-10 lead.
A 3-pointer by sophomore guard Mel Lucero and two baskets by Anderson helped extend the margin to 25-10 with three minutes left in the half.
Dulce, though, wouldn’t go away. The Lady Hawks got as close as 39-30 early in the fourth period and forced a turnover, but they turned it right back over and Texico pulled away.
“That second quarter hurt us so bad,” second-year Dulce coach Roland Bradford said. “I told the girls, ‘You need to be able to stay with them.’
“But I’m so proud of the girls. They scrapped and fought to the end.”
Dulce, making only its second state semifinal appearance overall and first since 2004, was looking for a third major upset after taking out fourth-seeded Rehoboth and No. 5 Estancia in the first two rounds.
With the Lady Hawks’ boisterous supporters getting into it, Durham said he was just happy it didn’t get any closer in the final period.
‘If they’d gotten within three or five points, they might’ve had to give everybody earplugs in that place,” he quipped.
Jordyn Cooper said she, her sister and Anderson don’t mind taking leadership roles on the team.
“We’ve been here before, the three of us,” she said. “For everyone else, it’s kind of their first year.”
Yepa, a transfer from defending Class 3A state champion Santa Fe Indian, said she hopes she’s helped the Lady Hawks start to build a tradition.
“I feel pretty good (about the season),” she said. “No one expected us to get this far."