TEXICO — The Texico Lady Wolverines played spoiler for Santa Rosa … again.
Unbeaten against everyone else on their schedule, the Lady Lions (25-3) fell short against Texico for the third time this month, falling 37-35 Friday in the championship game of the District 6-2A tournament.
As district tourney champions, the Lady Wolverines (22-5) will host the loser of today’s District 5-2A finale between Capitan and Tularosa next week in the first round of the state playoffs. The Lady Lions travel to play the Capitan-Tularosa winner.
Senior guard Victoria Richards scored six of her eight points in the final period, including a three-point play with 34 seconds left that broke a 33-33 tie.
Santa Rosa post Denika Flores had a chance at a game-tying three-point play, but missed the free throw. Richards added a final charity shot with 15 seconds left.
Santa Rosa lost the ball on an over-and-back violation with five seconds left — its 24th turnover of the night — and Texico ran out the clock for its 15th consecutive victory.
“We didn’t really execute on the little things,” said Richards, who has won four state volleyball titles, two state basketball titles and a state team track title in her prep career, “but at this point we’re happy for the win.”
The Lady Wolverines went on an early 10-0 run for an eight-point lead, bookended by 3-pointers from sophomore twins Jordyn and Jaylyn Cooper, but Santa Rosa rallied to take a pair of two-point leads early in the second quarter.
Senior Shannon Van Matre’s 3-pointer put Texico back in front midway though the period and the Lady Wolverines led the rest of the way except for a brief tie early in the final stanza.
“I’m very proud of our effort,” Lady Lions coach Joe Esquibel said. “I’m proud we can compete with the top teams in the state. Texico’s a very good team, and you have to play a perfect game to beat them.”
Richards ended up Texico’s leading scorer, but five of the other six girls who played scored — including four others with at least six points. Senior post Renae Roybal had 13 points and Flores 11 for Santa Rosa.
“Santa Rosa came to play and gave it everything they had for 32 minutes,” Texico coach Keith Durham said. “They don’t have anything to be ashamed of.”
The teams could met again at state, perhaps in the championship game. Richards said it gets tougher each time against the Lady Lions.
“I guess whenever you’re playing for a state championship, you want to play against the best team,” she said. “I think it would be a good game.”