RIO RANCHO — Penasco is trying to build a winning tradition. Texico is one win from continuing one.
Katlin Luscombe led a balanced effort with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and the top-seeded Lady Wolverines led by as many as 37 in a 58-41 dismantling of Penasco in Thursday’s Class 2A semifinal at the Santa Ana Star Center.
Jaylyn Cooper added 10 points and 10 players scored for Texico (25-5), which takes an 18-game winning streak against third-seeded Navajo Pine (23-2) in Friday’s 4 p.m. championship game at The Pit in Albuquerque. Texico is seeking its third 2A title in four seasons.
“It feels good,” Luscombe and Richards said in unison following the game, one year after their semifinal elimination against Lordsburg.
The fourth-seeded Panthers stayed with Texico for the first few minutes, but then the game went the way it has so many times for the Lady Wolverines — with defense and rebounding making the difference.
“We do it every day,” Texico coach Keith Durham said. “We did drills yesterday that we did from day one. I’m really proud of the girls and the effort they came up with.
“This time of the year, you play good teams. It’s hard to get layups, so you’ve got to defend and you’ve got to rebound.”
Defend? Check. Texico held Penasco (23-7) scoreless for the first 7:20 of the second quarter, and without a field goal for 11:10, stretching into the third stanza, in turning a 15-9 lead into a 49-12 bulge.
Rebounding? Check. The Lady Wolverines held a 41-19 advantage on the boards, with as many offensive rebounds as the Lady Panthers had total rebounds.
“They kept pounding it inside,” Penasco guard Maria Sam said, noting frustration for her and her teammates. “We started butting heads with each other.”
Penasco coach David Sanchez said the first three quarters showed the difference between a Texico team that’s used to winning titles and a Lady Panthers squad that wants to win titles.
“Texico expects to win,” Sanchez said. “At some point in the ballgame, that’s what pushes them over. They expect to get that key run.”
Sanchez was proud of his squad for not giving up, as the Lady Panthers outscored Texico 28-9 in the fourth quarter — albeit against the Lady Wolverines’ bench.
“Sports teaches life lessons,” Sanchez said. “You’re going to face adversity, (so) what are you going to do? We wanted to go out and no matter what happened, fight until our last breath.”
Alexandra Trujillo and Chelsea Visarraga scored 11 each to lead Penasco, which saw a 13-game winning streak end and won 18 of its final 20 games.