Estancia High School’s girls’ basketball team jumped out to a deceptively comfortable lead in its Jan. 18 district opener against the visiting Academy for Technology and the Classics (ATC), but the Lady Bears’ strong start couldn’t keep them afloat for four quarters.

After leading for almost the entire first half, Estancia (3-11, 0-1) fell behind at halftime. The Lady Bears regained the lead in the third quarter but saw it slip away as ATC (9-4, 1-0) handed the home team a 42-32 defeat.

“I think we settled, cuz we thought we had a big lead and then our energy kinda went down a bit,” Estancia senior center Daniela Rubio said.

Gabriella Villafuerte started Estancia’s first-quarter scoring with a layup in the game’s opening minute. Rubio followed with three consecutive baskets—two layups and a putback off an offensive rebound—and Sophia Sedillo capped the surge with a jump shot to lift the Lady Bears to a 10-2 advantage.

“We came out with strong energy,” Rubio said. “We were being patient and we controlled the ball really well and that got us our lead.”

ATC battled back and cut the margin to 2 points early in the second quarter.

Villafuerte sank a 3-point shot—Estancia’s only 3 of the game—to put the Lady Bears up 13-8 midway through the frame.

ATC mounted an 8-2 run that ended with a long-distance 3-pointer just inside the half-court line in the closing minutes of the first half to push ahead 16-15 at halftime.

“We had a great game plan going in and they were applying it, and then [ATC] made a little push with a couple shots and the girls kinda freaked out and that’s when it started rolling downhill,” Estancia head coach J.C. Batts said.

Rubio opened the third quarter with a go-ahead layup to put the Lady Bears up 17-16.

But ATC responded with an 8-0 run to take the lead for good.

Estancia answered with a pair of Rubio layups and a free throw by Miranda Lucero to pull within 2 points at 24-22 with 2:30 left in the third—but that was as close as the Lady Bears would get.

ATC came right back with a door-slamming 3 and led by five at the end of the third.

Estancia’s Daniela Rubio attempting a shot between a pair of ATC defenders, Jan.18, 2022.

“We just didn’t stick to the game plan,” Batts said. “Our game plan was discipline, control, and patience, and at the back end of the second quarter and in the second half we lost all three—and we talked about it, that if we didn’t have those three things, it was gonna be a rough night.”

After falling behind by as much as 12 points in the fourth quarter, Lucero had a nice uncontested layup off a grab-and-go steal in ATC’s backcourt midway through the frame, and Kaydence Sisneroz added a long-range 2-pointer in the game’s final 30 seconds.

“I think we just started to worry, once they started, like, getting a lead on us,” Rubio said. “We start to worry, and it messes with us, and like mentally it just messes with us.”

Rubio scored a game-high 16. Villafuerte chipped in five points.

The Lady Bears played at district rival Tierra Encantada Charter School in Santa Fe on Jan. 20.