RIO RANCHO — Tori Tucker grew up in the Floyd High School gym. She knows the last girls basketball championship banner reads “1990.” Saturday, she and her Lady Broncos teammates will have a chance to have the next one say, “2010.”
Tucker put up a banner night, and her teammates added huge plays as Floyd upset second-seeded and previously undefeated Magdalena 48-46 in Thursday’s Class 1A girls semifinal at Santa Ana Star Center.
Tanna Whitecotton added 11 points, and Veronica Mendoza scored the go-ahead bucket with 43 seconds to play for Floyd (22-7), which faces top-seeded Cliff (30-0) at 10:30 a.m. Saturday for the Class 1A championship.
Tucker, who set the school record twice with 46 and 51-point outings earlier this year, put together a 25-point, five-rebound, seven-steal, three-block performance. But she’d trade the record, or any other line, in a heartbeat to be associated with the school’s fourth girls basketball championship.
“I care about winning,” Tucker said. “If somebody else breaks the record (Saturday), we’ll win a state championship. That’s more important.”
Floyd coach Adam Terry said reaching The Pit is more special because of the team’s kinship.
“The six kids who played,” Terry said, “they’ve been at Floyd through their whole high school, middle school years — some all of their lives.”
Magdalena (28-1), which fell behind by 12 points in the first half, made sure Floyd would get the fight of its life.
“We were going to go down fighting if we went down,” Magdalena forward Nicole Hardy said. “Before the game, we said we were going to play with heart, and I thought we did.”
The Lady Steers rallied, and turned the fourth quarter into a back-and-forth affair.
Mendoza, who scored only two points on the night, picked the perfect time to strike. Trapped 17 feet from the basket, an overplaying Magdalena defense knocked the ball loose. Mendoza recovered, and found an open lane to break a 46-46 tie.
The Lady Steers got plenty of chances at the end. Keanda Chavez was fouled on a 16-foot jumper with 4.2 seconds to play. After missing the first, her intentional miss on the back end fell into a pile of diving players. Floyd had the possession arrow, and Elena Mendoza inbounded to Tucker, who ran out the final two seconds before storming back to her bench in elation.
While Tucker and Whitecotton got most of the credit, Magdalena coach Wally Sanchez said Floyd’s supporting cast made big plays when it counted.
“(Tucker) tired out near the end, but some other kids came through,” he said. “It’s not just Tucker and Whitecotton. It’s a good team they have there.”
Terry credited other players for the defensive job on Hardy, held to just one second-half point.
“Veronica and Cassie Breshears did an excellent job on her,” Terry said. “That’s who we were worried about coming in.”
Camille Mansell led the Lady Steers with 14 points.