BERNALILLO — Second-seeded Grady scored in the first 10 seconds, then quickly found itself down 6-2 to a Walatowa team that carries only seven players.
Lady Bronchos coach Alicia Rush acknowledged she wasn’t really worried, but called a quick timeout anyway to drive home her point.
“I told the girls, ‘You need to quit playing not to lose,’” said Rush, in her 13th season at the school. “We came out and played a lot better after that.”
Grady went on a 16-4 run to close out the first quarter, then pulled away with a strong second half for a 76-45 win over the Lady Cougars in a Class B quarterfinal at Bernalillo High School.
The Lady Bronchos (19-10) face district rival and sixth-seeded Mosquero, a 51-41 winner over third-seeded Carrizozo, in an 8 a.m. semifinal game on Thursday at Bernalillo.
Four players scored in double figures for Grady — led by senior guard Mandy Rush with 21. Sophomore forward Mackenzee Starbuck added 19, junior guard Joni Lampley 14 and sophomore guard Brenna Thomas 12.
Lampley scored 12 of her points in the second half en route to a career high.
“Mackenzee Starbuck did a great job inside,” Alicia Rush said. “She got beat up every time she shot it.
“Walatowa did a good job in the first half. They pushed the ball and worked hard.”
Grady was able to wear down the Lady Cougars, outscoring them 45-23 in the second half.
The Class B championship game is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at The Pit in Albuquerque.