After the blowouts, buzzer-beaters, and letdowns at the 82nd annual Bean Valley Conference basketball tournament at Estancia High School, the host’s girls team finished in second place, Estancia’s boys settled for third, and Mountainair High School’s girls team was satisfied to go home with a win.
Eleven high schools ranging from Class 1A to Class 3A participated in this year’s Bean Valley Conference tournament, Jan. 9-11. Commonly referred to as the BVC, it is the oldest, continuous invitational high school basketball tournament in the state.
In the girls’ eight-team bracket, Estancia’s Lady Bears stormed through their first two rounds of the three-game tournament but couldn’t get past Class 3A Tucumcari in the championship for the second consecutive year.
Estancia’s Aliyah Padilla bookended by a pair of Bosque defenders during the second round of the BVC Tournament Jan. 10. Photo by Ger Demarest.
Mountainair High’s Lady Mustangs lost their first two rounds but won their final game to finish seventh.
In the opening round, the Lady Bears dominated Santa Fe’s Monte del Sol Lady Dragons 51-4.
The Lady Bears’ court-scorching 21-0 onslaught lasted into the tail end of the second quarter before the Lady Dragons sank their first and only field goal of the first half.
Olivia Anaya’s jumper just before the end of the second quarter gave the Lady Bears a 27-2 lead at halftime.
A pair of 3-pointers by Samantha Hernandez helped extend Estancia’s lead to 44-4 by the end of the third quarter.
Hernandez finished with a game-high 19 points; Jenna Fastnacht and Aliyah Padilla scored 7 points apiece; Anaya and Daniela Ponce each chipped in 6 points.
Lady Bears head coach J.C. Batts, who put in his subs for much of the game, said, “They were very supportive of one another and running the court well.”
“It was good to get the momentum going,” Fastnacht said.
In the next day’s second-round matchup with Albuquerque’s Bosque School, Hernandez again posted the most points in the game—this time scoring 20 to lead the Lady Bears to a 40-24 victory.
Though Estancia led the whole game, Bosque—who beat the Lady Bears in the season opener—only trailed 21-19 midway through the third quarter.
But Estancia used a 15-0 surge to forge ahead 36-19 by the end of the frame.
“They showed a lot of composure,” Batts said after the game.
“We just played like we were losing, and we played hard,” Hernandez said, adding, “It’s pretty nice, we wanted to prove that we could beat them and we did.”
The Lady Bears met their match in the championship game, losing 62-25 to the Tucumcari Lady Rattlers.
Hernandez, Fastnacht, Anaya, and Padilla all received All-Tournament honors.
“I always want them to play better,” Batts said after the championship loss. “But they had a great weekend, they had a four-game winning streak, so, you know, not bad for a lot of young girls who don’t have much varsity experience.”
In the boys’ eight-team bracket, Estancia’s Bears—who won the BVC crown the last two years—cruised to a 63-45 win over Monte del Sol in the opening round.
Building a 13-1 advantage early in the first period, Garrett Noblitt’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the second—his first of three buzzer-beaters in the tournament—put the Bears ahead 33-14 at halftime.
Nazareth “Naz” Astorga led the Bears with 14 points.
The Bears stumbled in their second-round matchup against Navajo Pine, playing catch up for most of the game and exchanging leads several times in the second half before losing 82-74.
Estancia went up 69-67 with 4:03 remaining in the game and tied it 72-72 on Carlos Gomez’ 3 with 1:34 left, but Navajo Pine outscored the Bears 10-2 after that.
“We blew that one, but hats off to Navajo Pine, that’s a good team,” Estancia head coach Daniel Pierce said, adding, “Carlos Gomez played one helluva game.”
Gomez led the Bears with 24 points, Kody Larson added 21, and Noblitt scored 12.
Following the loss, Estancia battled Hatch Valley for third place in the final round. Despite falling behind early, the Bears came out on top 71-58.
“We came out slow and we just kinda turned it on after a while but we still shoulda won by more,” Noblitt said.
Noblitt, Larson, and Andrew Lujan got All-Tournament honors.
“At least we got the win,” Pierce said, adding, “It’s very disappointing, six years in a row we’ve been in the championship in the BVC and this year we blow it and we sit and watch the main game and we’re not in it—but we’ve gotta learn from it and get back to work.”
The Mountainair Lady Mustangs—who weren’t originally scheduled to come to this year’s BVC but agreed to participate after McCurdy School dropped out—faced Tucumcari in the first round and Capitan the next day, losing both games, 58-36 and 34-31, respectively.
But in their finale, the Lady Mustangs dismantled Monte del Sol 55-17.
Five seconds into the game, Mountainair’s Alyssa Bargas sank a layup to start a 13-0 first quarter. She scored 11 of the Lady Mustangs’ 13 points in the opening period and finished with a game-high 23 points.
Freshman Alyson Dew contributed 12 points.
“To come out strong and finish strong all the way through, that’s what we strive for, that’s our goal,” Bargas said. She received All-Tournament honors.
“It was good, they executed everything I needed them to execute,” Lady Mustangs head coach Adrienne Bargas said of the win, adding, “Overall, I was very satisfied, the girls did amazing, I’m proud of them.”
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.