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Lady Bulldogs best Gadsden on the road

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It wasn’t quite the runaway the Lady Bulldog basketball team posted over Gadsden in the teams’ first meeting Dec. 29, but the Artesia girls got the job done on the road Tuesday, defeating the Lady Panthers by a final of 54-47.

“It was closer than it should have been,” head coach Jeff Houghtaling said today. “We’d already beaten them once pretty good up there in the Los Lunas tournament, and unfortunately, I think that played a little role in the way we played last night.

“I think we thought we could come out and kind of roll over them, and they had a good game plan. They played pretty hard; in fact, I’d say for three quarters, they gave more effort than we did. But we were able to get the win.”

Gracie Puentes came out strong for the Lady Bulldogs in the paint Tuesday, logging two old-fashioned three-point plays and another pair from the free-throw line in the first. That combined with a Kyrah Gonzales trey and a bucket by Paityn Houghtaling put Artesia on top 16-10 going into the second.

There, Gonzales, Houghtaling and Elisa Cardenas all hit from beyond the arc, but that would comprise Artesia’s field-goal production in the period, allowing Gadsden a chance to close the gap, 29-26, by the break.

The Panthers and Bulldogs matched each other blow for blow in the third, with Houghtaling and Puentes both posting a pair of buckets each in the lane, the latter completing her third and-one of the night, and Artesia headed into the fourth still clinging to a three-point advantage, 42-39.

With Puentes continuing to shoot well from the free-throw line, however, and the Lady ‘Dogs stepping it up on defense, Artesia was able to hold Gadsden to eight points in the fourth to secure the 54-47 win.

“We were pretty good from the free-throw line last night, which is great compared to our last few games,” said Coach Houghtaling. “If we can shoot like that in district, we’ll be in good shape.

“It was a game of situations last night. They took the lead from us for a minute with about four minutes left in the game, but we got it right back, and I think it was good for us to play a game like that where it was close at the end and we won. We’ve lost three games this year – against Santa Fe High, Deming and Alamogordo – like that, so to be in that same situation and come out on top I think was really good for our confidence.”

Houghtaling said he was also pleased with the Artesia girls’ execution on offense in the contest.

“In the fourth quarter, we had a couple of situations where we had to execute some plays to get some shots, and we did,” he said. “We got a basket with about two minutes left to give us a four-point lead and then got a basket with under a minute left to kind of clinch it on a play right after a time out, and those things will all help us go into Friday night with a little confidence.”

Puentes finished with 24 points for Artesia on the night, followed by Houghtaling with 11.

The Lady Bulldogs will now join the Bulldogs in hosting their District 4-AAAAA opener Friday at Bulldog Pit.

“We want to urge people to come out,” said Houghtaling. “It’s going to be a big game for both us and the boys. There will also be a pep assembly at 10:45 a.m. Friday at the school, so if folks want to come to that, too, they’re welcome.”

Brienne Green
Daily Press Editor

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