ALBUQUERQUUE — 3, 2, 1, title?
That’s the path the Floyd Lady Broncos will have to make to win their first Class 1A girls basketball title in 20 years. After beating No. 3 Des Moines 65-54, and upsetting second-seeded and previously undefeated Magdalena 48-46, the next challenge is top-seeded Cliff, which brings a 30-0 record into Saturday’s 10:30 a.m. clash at The Pit.
“Cliff is a very balanced team,” Floyd coach Adam Terry said. “They’ve got a good point guard (Heather Henderson). They’ve got that big post, (6-foot sophomore Jenna) Jenkins, and they’ve got (shooting guard Mariah) Peralta. She’s one of the better players here.”
The Cowgirls seek their first title since going back-to-back in 2000 and 2001. Cliff finished as state runnerup in 2007.
Floyd has not appeared in a title game since winning two straight in 1989 and 1990, a drought not lost on junior Tori Tucker or her teammates growing up in the small community about 15 miles west of Portales.
“We’ve played together since second grade,” Tucker said. “To be here is a dream come true.”
Tatum coach Mike Majors has seen both squads, falling to Cliff in Thursday’s semifinal and absorbing a 49-37 loss to Floyd on Jan. 30 in a game with fewer implications.
“Floyd’s a good team, well-coached,” Majors said. “Adam Terry is doing a good job. He’s put in a lot of extra time that’s really paid off.”
He said the Cowgirls are similar to Magdalena, but Jenkins gives them better height than the Lady Steers.
“They play very good man-to-man defense,” Majors said, “and they also play a good 2-3 zone they’ve thrown in.”
Terry thinks Jenkins is a solid center for her years, but he thought Magdalena had more depth in the frontcourt.
His concern is Peralta, a 5-foot-7 senior. Majors felt Peralta was similar to Magdalena’s Keana Chavez, but Terry said District 3-1A play may have been better training for Saturday’s clash.
“We’ve faced (Elida junior) Reavis Best; we feel she’s a really good player,” Terry said. “We’ve played Elida five times. When you’re going against Reavis, you’re getting really good practice.”
If the Lady Broncos are to pull off the upset, Terry said, it will be because they cut down mistakes. Having 19 turnovers against Magdalena, helped turn a 12-point, first-half lead into a nailbiter at the Santa Ana Star Center.
“We’re going to turn it over because we push the ball, but we need to cut them down,” Terry said. “If we keep it under 15, we should be all right.”
Floyd (22-7) vs. Cliff (30-0)
10:30 a.m., The Pit, for the state Class 1A girls championship
Radio: KRMQ-FM 101.5, or online at nmaa.tv (purchase reqiured)
Cliff players to watch: Heather Henderson, 5-4 Jr. PG; Jenna Jenkins, 6-0 So. C; Mariah Peralta, 5-7 Sr. G.
Floyd players to watch: Tori Tucker, 5-9 Jr. G; Tanna Whitecotton, 5-2 Sr. G; G Bree Lancaster, 5-3 Sr. G.