RIO RANCHO — It was business as usual for the two-time defending Class 2A girls state champs as Texico jumped on a bus, headed for the state tournament, and summarily dispatched another foe at the Santa Ana Star Center on Tuesday.
The Wolverines controlled matters from almost from the start and ultimately triumphed over Penasco 53-31. Katlin Luscombe scored 17 points for Texico and Victoria Richards added 13,
Texico (22-7), top-seeded in the 2A field, actually started out a little hesitant. Wolverines coach Ryan Autrey, after Penasco’s Chelsea Visarraga bombed in an early trey for a 3-0 lead, didn’t waste any time in calling a quick timeout.
“I knew if I didn’t take care of it, and we let them have transition buckets like that, it was going to be a long night for us,” Autrey said.
“We got our legs pretty fast though. I think being on a bus for four hours had something to do with it,” Luscombe said.
Penasco (14-16), led by Visarraga’s nine points, got only one more free throw for the rest of the opening period.
Meanwhile, Texico got buckets from Luscombe and Richards inside while freshmen twins Jordyn and Jaylyn Cooper hit long-range shots as the Wolverines went ahead 24-10 midway through the second period.
Jordyn Cooper said she wasn’t hesitant to pull the trigger in her first state tournament action.
“Because he have a beast under the boards,” said Cooper, pointing to Luscombe.
The closest Penasco was able to come to Texico the rest of the way was 13 points on a pair of occasions.
It’s the third straight year for the Class 2A quarterfinal and semifinal rounds to be staged at the Santa Ana Star Center and Panthers’ coach Dennis Archuleta pointed to the Wolverines’ experience in these types of game as a big asset.
“They have an established program that’s very hard to compete with. They’re defending champs for the last two years and that experience means a lot,” Archuleta said. “They’re very tough, well disciplined, they handle the ball well and they don’t fold under pressure. They do just about everything right.”
Texico will play Lordsburg in the semifinals on Thursday, with tip-off time set for 8 a.m. at Santa Ana. The Mavericks earned their berth against the Wolverines by escaping a 15-point third quarter deficit against Mora in the first round for a 70-66 win.
“They are little, but I tell you what, they can play,” said Autrey of Lordsburg. “They can handle that ball and they can make shots if they’re left open. It’s gonna take everything we’ve got to get after them.”