BERNALILLO — Elida freshman Hunter Haley knows she’ll play off the bench. She’s just never sure when she’ll get the call.
Thursday, coach Dan Howard put her on the court about 30 seconds into the game after one of the Lady Tigers’ starters missed a couple of defensive assignments. Haley scored the first basket of the game and finished with 12 points as top-seeded Elida rolled over Hondo 67-33 in a Class B girls state semifinal game.
The Lady Tigers meet District 2 rival Grady, which escaped with a 51-47 semifinal win over another district foe, Mosquero, in today’s 2 p.m. championship game at The Pit in Albuquerque.
“He (Howard) puts me in when he needs me,” said Haley, a 5-foot-6 wing. “This was a rough game, but it prepared us for the game tomorrow.”
The Lady Tigers struggled a bit in the first quarter, but outscored the Lady Eagles 21-8 in the second period to turn the game into a runaway.
“"We played good,” Howard said. “I thought our defense really shined today, and that created a lot of our offense.
“We had a lot of girls step up. I think we had pretty even scoring today.”
Three other Lady Tigers finished in double figures, including senior Reavis Best, who nearly had a triple-double with 13 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Senior guard Margarita Ortiz led all scorers with 16 points, while senior Amanda Cross-Smith added 10.
“Defense was the key today,” Best said. “We really wanted to put pressure on them.
“We got a good spark from our bench. I passed the ball more than usual today, but that’s my job as point guard.”
Howard said the Lady Eagles tried to plan a triangle-and-two against Best and Ortiz, but it didn’t work that well.
“(Best) had a ton of assists,” he said. ‘It was a great team effort.”
Hondo, with five freshmen and four sophomores on its roster, was led by freshman guard Valerian Lerma with eight points. Two of the Lady Eagles’ three 3-point field goals came in the final period and were banked in.