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Lady Bulldogs avenge prior loss to Ramettes, 40-33

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Following three quarters’ worth of see-saw basketball Tuesday at Bulldog Pit, the Lady Bulldogs were able to take control in the end, pulling away in the fourth quarter for a 40-33 win over Portales.

With the victory, which avenged Artesia’s previous loss to the Ramettes, the girls in orange (18-6) put themselves in the District 4-AAAA driver’s seat at 4-1 with one game to go.

“It was a really good game,” head coach Jeff Houghtaling said Wednesday. “I’m extremely proud of the girls and their effort, and just their commitment to playing hard.”

Portales was lights out from the field Feb. 6 in their home gym, the difference-maker in a 53-49 win over Artesia. But, harried by tough defense from the Lady Bulldogs, the Ramettes were less accurate Tuesday, while the Lady ‘Dogs were able to use a solid combination of paint and perimeter work to get the job done.

Senior Lorin Wagner established that inside game early with back-to-back buckets in the low-scoring first quarter. An Ashton Craft three and a jumper from Abigail Hauschild saw Artesia up 9-6 going into the second, but the Lady ‘Dogs’ offense dropped off from there.

Another Wagner basket and two from Hattie Harrison were all Artesia could manage in that period, and the Ramettes took full advantage, reeling off 16 points to lead 22-15 at the break.

But the Lady Bulldogs stepped up to counter Portales’ physicality in the third, with seven points from Kymber Beltran leading a 13-3 quarter that propelled Artesia back in front by three, 28-25.

“I thought we played through a lot of contact,” Houghtaling said of the loosely officiated bout. “It wasn’t great, but it ended up sort of working out in our favor because we got to the foul line first in the fourth quarter, and we were good from the line.”

Outside of a Harrison trey, the Lady ‘Dogs scored all of their points in the final eight minutes from the striple, with Wagner going 4-4, Harrison 2-2, Jenna Whitmire 2-4 and Kailee Padilla 1-4 to help Artesia slowly inch away from the Ramettes.

As the final seconds ticked away, the Lady Bulldogs had compiled a 10-point lead, but a long three at the buzzer from Portales’ Evannie Fulfer rounded out the final, 40-33.

“It was good to play them at home,” said Houghtaling. “We knew we’d play better here than we did up there, and we just kind of crossed our fingers that they wouldn’t shoot as good here as they did at their place. And they didn’t. They struggled shooting wise, and we took advantage of that.

“We outrebounded them, we got to the free-throw line more, had less turnovers, more points in the paint, more steals, and our turnover number was great. We only had 13 and just five in the second half. We had a really good game plan, and it felt like the girls did a really good job of executing it.”

Wagner finished with 12 points to lead Artesia, followed by Harrison with 11. Fulfer had 13 for the Ramettes.

“It was just a great game overall, and we’re real proud of them,” Houghtaling said. “We still need to win Friday regardless of what happens in the other game to be district champs, but we’re kind of in the driver’s seat now.

“I’m real proud of the season up to this point. We finished our district road games going two out of three, which is huge, and we haven’t lost at home. We talk every season about how important it is to win at home and steal one or two on the road. If you can do that, you’re always going to have a chance to win district, and so far, we’ve done that.”

The Lady Bulldogs will now prepare to join the Bulldogs for Pack the Pit night Friday against Goddard. The girls will be tipping off at 5:30 p.m., followed by the boys at 7 p.m., and both teams hope to see a sizable crowd in the stands to cheer them on as they play to lock down D4 supremacy.

“Goddard’s playing better right now,” said Houghtaling. “We know they beat Lovington last night and they really should’ve beaten Portales last Friday, but Portales made a late charge at the end. But if we play another good game like we did last night, I like our chances.

“Hopefull we’ll have a rowdy crowd, and I think we will. We’ve had fantastic crowds all district season, so we want to make sure all the fans know that we appreciate them coming out and watching us play. It’s really been a home-court advantage for us, and we’re happy about that and proud of that.”

Brienne Green
Daily Press Editor

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