By Leroy Chavez<br />Sports writer
CIMARRON — The Cimarron High School Lady Rams put up a valiant fight but were no match for a deep and talented Raton High School Lady Tiger squad, which won the non-conference intra-district basketball contest 53-36 in Cimarron Saturday (Jan. 18).
“It was a good tune-up for the team as we get ready for a tough road trip to Clayton and tougher road trip to Pojoaque to open up district play,” said Raton coach Leon Romero. “We had a chance to mix up our lineup by using J.V. players and everyone played. The flu bug hit us hard this week and we have to be ready next week.”
The flu bug has been a constant factor that affected both squads, as the Lady Rams were without starting post Mariah Vanderli.
“It was a tough game, but I saw some growth from the kids,” said Lady Ram coach Patricia LeDoux. “Raton has a tough team, but the girls didn’t back down and gave it their best shot. We’re just starting to get healthy from the flu and could have used Mariah’s length today.”
The first quarter was lackadaisical as both squads had trouble scoring while getting good looks at the basket. Raton missed several easy shots, but managed to out-score Cimarron 11-4 in the initial period. The second period was more of the same with the Lady Tigers taking an 8-6 advantage to take a 19-10 lead at intermission.
“We were sluggish and missed a lot of shots, but our defense was the difference in the first half,” said Romero.
LeDoux echoed Romero’s sentiments about missing easy shots, but noted “We didn’t rebound well and gave Raton a lot of second and third shots.”
The pace picked up in the second half as both teams started changing defenses, with Cimarron going with a full-court press. The Lady Tiger offense got un-tracked and attacked the basket frequently to take a 19-12 advantage pushing the score to 38-22 at the three-quarters mark.
The final period was more of the same as the Lady Tigers out-scored the Lady Rams 15-14 to take a 53-36 win.
“We’ll have our final tune-up with Clayton in Clayton and it’s always tough to play them there,” said Romero. “We start the second season (district) on the road against the top two teams — Pojoaque and West Las Vegas. Both teams like to run-and-gun and run full-court pressure defenses. We’ll have to be at our best and hope to be healthy.”
Leading the Lady Tiger attack was Briana Pais and Mikala Vertovec with 10 points each. They got plenty of help from Tarryn Trujillo and Leah Cimino with seven points apiece, Sarandan Walton with five points, the trio of Kallista Dorrance, Shania Dorrance and Mariah Romero with four points each, and Tate Wood with two points.
The Lady Rams were led by Jessica Pittman with 24 points, Selina Rael with five points, Amy Gonzales with three points, Holli Araiza with two points, and Reina Arguello and Gentry Haukebo with one point each.
“We still have a couple of weeks playing non-district schools to get ready for the district games,” said LeDoux. “We just recently got Selina (Rael) back and we’re still nursing injuries. The next two weeks will give us the opportunity to be where we want to be.”
The Tigers, 12-2 overall, traveled to Clayton on Tuesday (Jan. 21) for a non-conference game with the Yellowjackettes, then will travel to Pojoaque Valley to battle the Elkettes in the opening game of the District 2AAA season. The games will start at 2 p.m. with the junior varsity girls followed by the junior varsity boys, varsity girls and varsity boys.
“This first road trip to Pojoaque Valley is a tough one in which we’re literally in the Pojoaque gym for 7-8 hours straight,” said Romero.
The Lady Rams will host the Lady Redskins of La Veta High School out of Colorado on Saturday (Jan. 25) at 4 p.m.