Texico girls coach Keith Durham doesn’t mind too much if his team takes some losses to good competition at this time of the season, as long as it makes his squad better.
The Class 2A Lady Wolverines tried to fight back from an 11-point, third-quarter deficit Tuesday, but fell short in a 42-36 championship semifinal loss to Class 5A Cibola in the Plateau Holiday Classic at Rock Staubus Gym.
Texico (7-4) got within four points early in the fourth quarter and appeared to have the Cougars (8-3) rattled a bit, but Cibola settled in down the stretch and took advantage of the Lady Wolverines’ cold shooting.
“We got better and that’s what it’s all about,” Durham said. “I told the girls after the game, ‘If we can run our stuff against people like that, we should be able to run it against Double-A teams later on.”
Senior post Korina Chapman (15 points) and junior post Amber Battle (14) provided a formidable 1-2 punch for the Cougars, who face Albuquerque rival La Cueva (8-3) in today’s 2:45 p.m. championship game.
“Texico’s a good basketball team,” Cibola coach Lori Stephenson said. “I told our girls (before the game) that I think we’re playing the (eventual) 2A champions.”
Cibola’s defense made it tough on Texico’s top scorers, holding them pretty well in check. Senior post Katlin Luscombe finished with 11 points, but the Lady Wolverines had a tough time finding good shots and compounded their problems with a 6-for-17 showing at the free throw line.
“I thought Amber did a really good job on the (Victoria) Richards kid,” Stephenson said. “I think she’s a really good ballplayer.
“Our top three (defenders) had tough assignments.”
Texico pulled to 32-28 with 5:59 left when Luscombe scored on a drive and was fouled. She missed the free throw, however, and the Lady Wolverines tallied only one more point over the next four minutes.
“We got a little tired,” said Durham, whose team routed Class 5A Alamogordo 70-49 in Monday’s opening round with the help of nine 3-pointers. “Last night, for some reason, we didn’t feel a lot of pressure. But you have to experience these things so you can deal with them later on.”
Texico faces Clovis in today’s 6 p.m. third-place matchup.