Texico’s Faith Martin drives to the basket past Navajo Prep defender Nicole Crisp in a Class 2A semifinal game at Rio Rancho High School Wednesday. Martin had 17 points and 6 rebounds in the game as Texico won 42-30. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
RIO RANCHO — Style points don’t matter much to Texico girls coach Keith Durham. Just results.
The third-seeded Lady Wolverines matched their deliberate style against Navajo Prep’s up-tempo attack Thursday, and advanced to the Class 2A state championship with a 42-30 victory over the second-seeded Lady Eagles at Santa Ana Star Center.
After knocking off a one-time regular rival in state finals, Texico (26-4) will play Penasco (23-1) in today’s 4 p.m. championship game at The Pit in Albuquerque.
“We wanted to make sure we were patient on offense,” Durham said. “We knew if we let them run the floor, we’d be in trouble.”
It’s a style that has been successful for Durham in his two years at the school.
“A lot of people talk about our defense, but until you face it you don’t know (how to deal with it),” Durham said. “We did a great job of defending them. The whole thing was to make them earn everything.”
Junior guard Faith Martin scored 17 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished three of Texico’s five assists. Meantime, freshman forward Katlin Luscombe added 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
“I don’t know if Navajo Prep is used to playing defense that long,” Durham said of his team’s patient approach.
Texico will make its first title-game appearance since completing a three-peat in 2002.
“I’m very excited about it,” Martin said. “It’s a big thing for us to play in The Pit.”
After two early ties, the Lady Wolverines scored the final five points of the opening quarter for a lead they never relinquished.
The margin grew to 20-10 late in the half, but Texico failed to score over the next 6 1/2 minutes and the Lady Eagles (20-2) crept back to 20-18.
Martin ended the dry spell with two free throws at the 2:43 mark of the third quarter, and Bryn Mayfield’s basket in the final minute made it 25-20.
“They did a very good job of taking us out of our game,” said Navajo Prep coach Rainy Crisp, a Lady Eagles standout during the 1990s. “We never got in a rhythm and playing catch-up is hard, especially against a good team.”
Navajo Prep closed to four points twice early in the final period, but Texico salted the game away by hitting 12-of-19 free throws in the stanza.
Senior forward Charmayne Yazzie was Navajo Prep’s top scorer, collecting seven points before fouling out in the final minute.
“They never gave up,” Mayfield said of the Lady Eagles. “It was a rough game out there, but it was a lot of fun.”