Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Lady Rattlers victorious in season opener


December 5, 2018

Ron Warnick

Tucumcari ball handler Ashley Shipley gets bumped by Laguna Acoma defender Jacine Bahe.

The Tucumcari girls basketball team eased away from Laguna Acoma for a 50-29 victory during both teams' season-opener Friday at the Snake Pit, but it could have been even more lopsided for the Lady Rattlers.

Tucumcari missed a number of easy layups and often found itself out of position for rebounds. Coach Gary Hittson attributed those shortcomings to one thing.

"We were tired."

Less than two weeks had passed since the first day of official practice and the first game, and Hittson said it showed.

"We're not in game shape yet," he said. "In the first quarter, we pressed and ran our offense well, and we just got tired after that. Our legs were gone; we couldn't jump, and we couldn't move."

Ashley Shipley led the Lady Rattlers with 19 points, and Kalani French added 12.

Fortunately for Tucumcari, its defense kept the Hawks frequently off-balance, and they never led.

"For our first game, we didn't do too bad, but we had 23 turnovers," Laguna Acoma coach Daniel Garcia said. "At one point, we had closed the gap to five points, but we just kept giving the ball back. We spent most of the game on defense because we kept turning the ball over."

Garcia, a first-year coach for the Hawks, said his team still is adjusting to his style.

"The learning curve is huge, and they're still learning to play with our new system," he said.

Taya Kie and Alenna Scott led Laguna Acoma with eight points apiece, and Jasmine Kie had seven.

Tucumcari raced to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and kept that during much of the second with a 27-15 advantage at intermission.

The Hawks mounted a rally early in the third quarter and trailed just 27-23 at one point.

But the Lady Rattlers responded with a 12-0 run, powered by a three-point play by Aaliyah Brown and a 3-point shot by Shipley, to take a commanding 39-23 lead early in the fourth quarter. Tucumcari never led by less than double digits after that.

Tucumcari 73, West Las Vegas 37

Tucumcari turned a somewhat close game into a blowout during the second half Saturday of a 73-37 victory over West Las Vegas at the Snake Pit.

Ashley Shipley led the Lady Rattlers (2-0) with 25 points, and Kalani French added 24 points. In addition to scoring points on turnovers and fastbreaks, Tucumcari also drained seven 3-point shots.

Skylin Morgan lead the Lady Dons (1-1), who scored just 14 points in the second half, with 10 points.

The Lady Rattlers held a 31-23 lead at intermission and briefly trailed 12-9 in the first period.

Tucumcari coach Gary Hittson said he changed his defense after intermission, leading to an upsurge of 42 points in the second half.

"We finally started rebounding and starting running the floor, and that's our game," he said. "They weren't ready for that. They sort of folded midway through the third quarter."

Tucumcari went on an 8-0 run in the third quarter to fatten its lead to nearly 20 points. The advantage ballooned to 30 during a 17-1 run to close the game.


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