RIO RANCO -- If the Texico girls basketball team had a slight Achilles' heel anywhere, a bunch of five-footers from Lordsburg may just have exposed it on Thursday.
The tiny Mavericks overtook the top-seeded Wolverines at the start of the fourth quarter in a Class 2A state semifinal and went on to a 63-54 victory. The upset sent Lordsburg (20-6) into today's championship and ended a two-year run at the top for Texico (22-8).
Forcing 29 turnovers primarily through pressure on Texico's backcourt, Lordburg grabbed the lead with an eight-point run at the start of the fourth quarter.
"We just wanted to run them down and use our speed, because we don't have any height," Mavs junior guard Alysha Marquez said.
Lordsburg, with four players at five feet tall or smaller, harassed the Wolverines with full-court pressure from the start. At the beginning of the game, however, it seemed to have little effect as Texico utilized a 14-1 run to march out to a 20-7 lead.
In that opening salvo, the Wolverines versatility showed as Texico got five different players in the scoring column. Freshman Jaylyn Cooper led all players with 15 points while teammate Katlin Luscombe added nine.
There were warning signs early, however, as Texico junior guard Victoria Richards got into quick foul trouble and only saw sporadic playing time before intermission.
The harbinger of potential difficulty came to fruition when Richards fouled out only a minute into the fourth period. Lordsburg, whose only other previous lead came when it scored the opening bucket of the game, turned that foul into two free throws from Kelsey Worthan and tied the contest at 39-39.
Without Richards' ballhandling skills, the Texico offense struggled to get into rhythm as the Wolverines didn't score a field goal until Cooper connected from the floor with 3:50 left.
Holding a 55-52 lead with a minute left, Lordsburg went on an 8-2 run to end the game as the Mavericks sealed the result with three more turnovers that were converted into baskets.
"They had a lot of trouble with the press when she (Richards) left; that's when our press really took over," Lordsburg coach Rodney Plowman said. "I think she pretty much runs their whole offense, because their offense slowed down too."
Lordsburg, which also came back from a 15-point second half lead in the quarterfinals against Mora, was led with 14 points apiece from senior guard Julia Talavera and Crystal Plowman -- the Mavs' tallest player at 5-8.
"I think they just played harder for 32 minutes. You've got to give credit to Lordsburg," Texico coach Ryan Autrey said. "I knew coming in that they were going to play harder and they weren't going to quit.
"There were a couple of times we had them down and they just fought their way right back into it. I don't know that it was necessarily that they were quicker than what we've seen, but there were cases when we let them get into the middle of the paint and shoot layups."