Lady Warriors hit the hardwood for 2012-2013

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The Socorro Lady Warriors basketball team tipped-off the 2012-2013 season on Tuesday night, and they secured their first win of the year with an electrifying come-from-behind victory over Belen.

The home team Lady Warriors used a 16-3 fourth-quarter run to help them win the season-opener against their rival from up Interstate 25 after the Eagles had opened up as much as a 10-point lead. But Socorro rallied defensively in the second half in allowing Belen just 19 points, and scored 31 to secure a 53-46 win.

Many of the Lady Warriors’ points came from the charity stripe as they went a combined 28-46 from the free-throw line overall, and 10-17 in the decisive fourth quarter. Socorro recorded just 11 field goals, but two of those were clutch 3-pointers in the second half.

“We knew that we were going to struggle offensively coming into this game. It’s just early in the season,” Socorro head coach Marleen Greenwood said. “As small as we are, we take a lot of outside shots and we knew it was going to be a hard time.”

Both teams showed some signs of early-season rust though, and they combined for just 18 points in the first quarter in playing to a 9-9 tie. Belen got itself into early foul trouble, and just eight minutes into the game it had recorded 10 personal fouls and put Socorro in the double-bonus early. The Lady Warriors converted 17 of 24 opportunities from the foul line in the first half.

In the second quarter the Eagles went on a quick spurt to take a 19-16 lead, but Theresa Chavez scored four consecutive points for Socorro on free throws to help her team regain a 20-19 advantage.

Belen’s Mariah Forde reeled off seven straight points on her own however, and the Eagles took a 27-22 lead into the locker room.

They kept their momentum going late into the third quarter and extended their lead to eight points when Forde nailed a 3-pointer from the baseline. Alexis Begay added a layup just before the third quarter buzzer to give Belen a 36-26 lead heading into the fourth.

It looked grim for Socorro, but a quick glance at both teams’ rosters might give the impression the Lady Warriors should be able to stay collected, even with their backs up against the wall.

The Belen lineup includes only four upperclassmen, two seniors and two juniors, while Socorro’s boasts six seniors alone, along with three juniors.

If they were feeling any pressure being down 38-29 after three quarters, their experience suggests they shouldn’t have been. The way they played in Tuesday’s fourth quarter, the facts revel they weren’t.

Socorro senior forward Bryahna Baca scored six of her team’s next seven points and the defense went into lockdown and the Lady Warriors pulled to within two, 38-36, with just more than five minutes remaining in the game. With 4 minutes and 59 seconds left, disaster struck for Belen when Forde, it’s sophomore standout, fouled out of the game. At that point she had scored 27 of her team’s 38 points, but Socorro had been attacking her offensively all game long.

“That’s what we say. Take it to them, take it to them, take it to them,” Greenwood said. “Their number 33 is a dominant player and we knew we had to get her in foul trouble. The only way we could do that was to go at her.”

With just fewer than four minutes remaining Socorro had gone on a 13-3 run to take a 42-41 lead, then extended it’s lead to four points after senior guard Ashton Monette hit her second three-point shot of the night. With 51 seconds remaining in the contest Baca all but sealed the Socorro victory with a layup, and the Lady Warriors hit their remaining two free-throw attempts to hammer in the final nail.

Socorro outscored Belen 24-8 in the final quarter and 31-19 overall in the second half. Baca finished with 19 points, while Chavez scored 13 and Monette, six. Senior point guard Amanda Saenz had five points, and Madeline Chavez and Maria Alderete added four and two points, respectively.

Even though the Lady Warriors are probably more adept at handling difficult in-game situations and might have been expecting a win against a talented but very young Belen squad, it’s always great to start the season out with a win. Especially against a proximal rival.

“We’ve always played Belen the first game of the season, so it’s more tradition than anything. I think it’s more of a pride thing than worrying if they’re a 3A or 4A school,” Greenwood said.

“We’re older as far as experience and class is concerned. I expect them to come through, and I think they showed a lot of composure, especially going into the fourth quarter when we were down by nine. They stepped up and I think they handled themselves real, real well.”

The Lady Warriors, 1-0 as of Nov. 29, will return to the hardwood on Dec. 4 when they play host to Pojoaque Valley. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Socorro High School.