Three days after winning their first game of the season, the East Mountain Lady Timberwolves ran into a brick wall in their Dec. 10 home opener against the visiting Pecos Lady Panthers.

The Lady T’Wolves, who beat Navajo Pine 48-37 in the Dec. 7 finale of the Wingate tournament, were handily defeated 53-10 by the defending Class 2A state champion Lady Panthers.

The undefeated Lady Panthers, who are one of the top 2A teams in the state, set the tone early by taking the opening tipoff and scoring a layup in the game’s first five seconds.

Pecos was up 9-0 when East Mountain got on the board with a free throw by Michelle Carver midway through the first quarter.

But the Lady T’Wolves went 0-12 from the field in the opening stanza and trailed 15-1 by the end of the frame.

At the start of the second quarter, Ashlyn Simkins—one of just two seniors on the team—drained a 3-point shot to pull East Mountain within 11 points.

“I think right at that time we were getting down on ourselves and feeling like we couldn’t compete with this team and opening up that shot helped us see that we can if we move the ball,” Simkins said.

Holding on to the ball proved to be a challenge for the Lady T’Wolves who committed 15 turnovers in the first half alone—and Pecos capitalized by scoring points in transition off East Mountain’s turnovers.

Kaitlyn Velarde losing control of the ball. Photo by Ger Demarest.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” East Mountain’s first-year head coach Robbie Dolce said. “We gave the ball away too many times and we got frustrated because we weren’t taking care of the ball.”

Midway through the second quarter, Carver hit a long 2-pointer from a few feet beyond the free-throw line to trim Pecos’ lead to 19-6. Carver led East Mountain with 3 points.

The Lady T’Wolves, who made just two first-half field goals on 23 attempts, didn’t score again until the fourth quarter when Cameryn Radosevich sank a jump shot.

Kaylee Baker followed with a layup to complete East Mountain’s scoring.

“I think we boarded very well, we just did not get the shots, and the transition game killed us,” Dolce said, adding, “A lot of these kids are freshmen and they’re very green but they’re getting better—we just have to take away what we did wrong and build off of that.”