Portales’ Amanda Terry, right, looks to shoot over Hope Christian’s Taylor Sauer during Friday’s Class 3A championship game. (CNJ Staff Photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
ALBUQUERQUE — Hope Christian converted 20-of-29 free throws in the fourth quarter and rallied for a 43-40 victory over defending champion and top-seeded Portales Friday night in the Class 3A girls state championship game at The Pit.
The second-seeded Huskies (27-4), who moved up to 3A this season after losing in each of the past two Class 2A state title games, managed only one field goal in the fourth quarter but outscored Portales 17-8 over the final 5 1/2 minutes.
Sophomore guard Andrea Torgrimson scored 16 points, hitting two free throws with 24.1 seconds left to break a 39-39 tie. Teammate Meaghan Martinez added 10 points.
“It was huge for us to get (the championship) after losing twice (in 2A),” Torgrimson said. “It was a really physical game.”
Portales (20-9) reached its seventh consecutive 3A final. The Lady Rams were denied a fifth title in that time, but returned to the championship contest despite being hard-hit by graduation after last season.
Portales was whistled for 17 fouls in the final stanza and lost four players to personals. Junior Vicki Huber collected 11 points and nine rebounds for the Lady Rams while senior Briana Hernandez finished with 10 points.
“I’m very proud of my kids,” PHS coach Brenda Gomez said. “I thought we held our composure well.”
Gomez noted the disparity in fouls in the final period — 17 on the Lady Rams, six on the Huskies.
“I felt like they were putting as much pressure on us as we were on them,” she said. “But we couldn’t finish it off. We haven’t shot well the entire time here.”
Portales shot 28 percent on 14-of-50 — 19 more attempts than Hope — and the Lady Rams also struggled at the line, going 11-for-26. They outrebounded the Huskies 46-44.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” Hope Christian coach Terry Heisey said. “I can’t be prouder of how these girls came back. Every point tonight seemed to be a battle.”
He said having lost in the 2A finals the last two years provided motivation.
“In the end, it made it all the more enjoyable,” Heisey said. “We knew how bitter it was to lose the last two years after being up at halftime in both games.”