Abeyta leads Cougars over Mountainair
Dustine Abeyta is No. 1.
Alamo Navajo’s 5-foot-8 senior post put on what was very nearly a one-girl show as she scored 26 of her game-high 35 points in the second half to lift the Cougars to a 59-46 District 2-1A high school basketball victory at Mountainair on Thursday (2/9) night.
“Dustine was mad,” Alamo coach Chee Apachito said. “She only had nine points in the first half. She usually averages about 30 points in a game, and she usually has like 15 to 20 in the first half.”
The host Mustangs, with senior Rebecca Moseley scoring on a fullcourt drive after getting the rebound on the other end, provided Mountainair with a 24-19 lead at halftime. The game seemed to be on track to go along the same lines in the second half when Moseley’s sophomore teammate, Jessi Jo Gonzales, swished a long 2-point field goal, after taking a step back, to expand the ‘Stangs’ advantage to 26-19 at the outset of the third quarter.
After that, however, is when the Cougars — Apachito said his team now has a record of 15-7, 6-1 in district — began what was a rampage, outscoring the Mustangs 14-8 in the third and 26-14 in the final stanza. Abeyta was on fire, and Alamo junior guard Tiyanna Ganadonegro wasn’t too shabby either, as she put in 11 points, seven in the fourth.
Abeyta dominated. Her key plays in the third included a 180-degree spin move after a hustling pick up of garbage in the paint to decrease the deficit to 26-22 in the third, and a putback with 34 seconds remaining, which along with Ganadonegro’s bucket at the 1:23 mark, handed the visitors the lead at 33-30.
The Cougars hadn’t sealed the deal quite yet, though. They barely had a 33-32 lead at the end of the third after Mountainair got a baseline jumper from junior Rebecca Romero with 15 seconds left, and the ‘Stangs regained the advantage at 34-33 with 7:29 remaining in the fourth on a pair of Romero free throws.
Mountainair (8-11, 5-3 in district) even had a 40-35 lead when Romero, who paced her team with 18 points, got a layup off a bounce pass from freshman point guard Teryn Kayser with 6:19 lit up on the game clock. But Alamo rallied to tie it up at 40 on a couple of charity tosses from Abeyta at 4:21, and the Cougs regained the lead for good at 42-40 at the 3:53 mark on Abeyta’s contested 12-foot turnaround.
“I’ve got better,” said Abeyta, regarding her progress as a prep player. “I’m pushing more, and I’m trying to get my team to a district championship and try to make it to state. We have a chance.”
Abeyta kept up the intensity until the very end. She even got the last basket when she stole an inbounds pass and promptly flipped the ball over the front of the rim.
“No. 1 (Abeytas’ jersey number) killed us,” said Mustangs coach Travis Dempsey, who also is Mountainair’s principal. “She only had nine points in the first half. I knew she was their gun, but she just came unglued. And she wasn’t really passing it. She was just putting it up … We’ve got to stop her the next time we play them (Feb. 17 in Socorro County). If we can keep her under 20, we can do it. We can win.”
Moseley had done a pretty good job defending Alamo’s horse in the first half.
“I think I just got tired, and she’s a very good player,” Moseley said. “Coach said we’d go to a box and one, so I tried to keep her from getting the ball in the first half. And then if she did get the ball, I tried to not let her shoot. That’s what I tried to do in the first half.”
Elijahwon Apachito was No. 1, too.
The Cougars (12-10, 7-3 in 2-1A) — with Apachito, a senior who also wears jersey No. 1, scoring a game-high 30 points — mauled Mountainair, 92-58, in their district game in Torrance County on Thursday, Feb. 9. Junior Korey Reese provided 14 points for the Mustangs (6-16, 4-7).
Alamo ran, ran some more, and played with a frenzy on defense to overwhelm an outmatched Mountainair.
“Everybody got to play, and they got to run,” Cougars coach Raymond Apachito Sr. said. “That’s the way the kids play. They pressure all the time from the tipoff to the last second. We wanted to win the last four games (including Thursday’s contest). We’ve still got To’hajiilee, Evangel (Christian) and another one (at home on Feb. 17) against Mountainair.”