ActivePaper Archive Class 1A Champions - Hobbs News Sun, 3/17/2019

Class 1A Champions

Lady Coyotes use late run to claim state title


Tatum’s Celeste Jimenez hits a layup against Melrose in the second half of the Lady Coyotes’ win over Melrose in The Pit. Tatum used a 14-2 run in the third quarter to defeat the Lady Buffaloes 57-48 and win the Class 1A state championship.


Tatum’s Maddy Rice goes down the middle for a layup against Melrose Saturday morning in The Pit. Rice, who had 13 points, is one of four Tatum players on the roster to win a second state title in three years.


ALBUQUERQUE – The second seeded Tatum girls’ basketball team used a big second half to rally past top-seeded Mel-rose and win the NMAA Class1A state championship Saturday morning in The Pit. The Lady Coyotes beat the Lady Buffaloes 57-48.

The state championship was the second in three years for Tatum after winning the Class 2A title in 2017 and third in six years with a Class 1A title in 2014.

“I’m blessed and honored to coach a group of extremely talented young ladies,” Tatum head coach Vince Homer said on winning his first state title.

Tatum used a 14-2 run to end the third quarter and swing momentum to the Lady Coyotes favor. After falling behind by 10 points, the Lady Coyotes were able to keep their composure and played to their strength in taking the lead.

“I think we had a little nervousness,” the Lady Coyotes’ coach said on the rally in the third quarter. “We didn’t hit shots that we characteristically knock down. Hats off to Melrose they extended us and pressured. But all year long I’ve been reminding these ladies to trust what we do. To trust what we do and keep trusting what we do, to continue to lean on each other, and take care of each other. Do the things that we can control, guard, rebound play really, really hard.”

“Yea,” Melrose head coach Caleb King added on Tatum’s run changing the game. “We had to take out two of our main ball handlers with foul trouble and they got us with the press a little bit and pressured us. Got us into situations were we committed fouls.”

King looks at the foul calls as the deciding factor in Tatum being able to get back into the game. During Tatum’s run, King never called a timeout to try and regroup his team. For the Lady Buffaloes coach, his team had shown in the past the strength to weather a storm and stay in a game.

Trailing 34-24, Tatum’s run began with an intentional foul on senior Maddy Rice after a steal. Rice made both free throws and on the next play Taylor Graham hit a layup and got a three-point play opportunity.

“Honestly I don’t know,” Rice said on the intentional foul leading to Tatum taking control of the game. “We just play for each other. Whenever things are going right, they are going right. Whenever they are going wrong we really didn’t get negative and look at the score and think we cant do this. All we think basket, the next basket, and the next. We try to make everything and make everything.”

Things began to go right for the Lady Coyotes as they erased a 10-point deficit, and took a four-point lead, 38-34, going into the fourth.

During the fourth quarter, the Lady Coyotes offense, especially its free throw shooting, came to life and carried the team to a state title.

Tatum took control of the ball and committed fewer turnovers. The Lady Coyotes began to play their game with the confidence and that forced the Lady Buffaloes to play catch up.

Shots the Lady Coyotes missed in the first half began to fall. Abigail Duran hit a three to put the team up by five. Celeste Jimenez then attacked the paint on a side step to put the team up 44-38 left in the game.

Melrose would make a push coming off bad fouls by Tatum, but the Lady Buffaloes would miss at the charity stripe going 0-for-5 before hitting one in the final quarter.

In the final minute of the game the Lady Coyotes would overcome one of their biggest struggles in the season, hit free throws to seal the win.

“We have instilled that free throws win games,” Jimenez said.

Tatum went 21-for-24 in the second half, with Jimenez going 14-of-18 and Rice 9-of-10 to secure the title.

“We shot them all the time,” Homer said. “We shot free throws and sometimes they give me a hard time cause we shot too many at times. But it paid off today.”

“We have lost two championship games on free throws,” Rice added. “We knew that we wanted to win this one so we had to do everything we can and trust in each other.”

Jimenez led the team with 21 points and four rebounds. Rice and Duran finished with 13 points apiece. Duran also led the team with seven rebounds.

Tatum held Melrose to 39 percent shooting and eight percent from the three-point line. The Lady Coyotes held Melrose to only eight points in the third and 14 in the fourth. The Lady Coyotes shot 30 percent from the field in the game, but 41 percent in just the second half. Tatum shot 18 percent from the three for the game, but 29 percent in the second half.

Homer also enjoyed the extra support his team got during the championship game from Hobbs, a fellow Lea County school.

“Shout out to the Hobbs fans, Tasker band, and the Hobbs cheerleaders wearing Tatum shirts,” Homer said on the Lea County support they received.