The looks on the faces of Estancia High’s Lady Bears said it all. Following a stunning and heartbreaking defeat to Albuquerque’s Native American Community Academy at home on Feb. 18, teary-eyed players headed to the Estancia locker room knowing they were seconds away from victory.
Outside of a brief 24-24 tie early in the fourth quarter, Estancia trailed NACA the entire second half until Olivia Anaya buried a 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining in the game to lift the Lady Bears to a 38-37 lead.
All Estancia had to do was hold on for nine seconds.
But Estancia (9-15, 3-4) fouled a NACA player while attempting a shot at the buzzer. With no time left on the clock, NACA hit both free throws and went home with the 39-38 win.
“You can find a hundred different reasons,” Estancia head coach J.C. Batts said. “But at the end of the day we lost by a point.”
Estancia led the entire first quarter before NACA battled back to take the lead in the second.
Jenna Fastnacht sank a 3-pointer midway through the second to give the Lady Bears a 12-11 advantage, but a 7-0 surge put NACA up 18-12 at halftime.
NACA led by as much as 8 points in the third quarter before the Lady Bears closed the gap to 24-23 at the end of the period.
Samantha Hernandez sank a free throw to tie the game 24-24 at the start of the fourth. She led the Lady Bears with 14 points. Fastnacht added 8. Aliyah Padilla had 6.
The loss came on the heels of Estancia’s 45-20 win over the Menaul Lady Panthers on Feb. 15.
The Lady Bears fell behind Menaul in the first quarter but a 10-0 surge midway through the second gave them the lead for good.
Jayde Perea’s jump shot just before the second-quarter buzzer put Estancia up 20-10 at halftime.
Perea opened the fourth quarter with another jumper to put the Lady Bears up 30-15.
Hernandez scored a game-high 16 points. Perea and Anaya each score 6. Fastnacht added 5.
“This game, we didn’t come out with a lot of energy in the first quarter and we had to fight ‘cuz we were behind,” Hernandez said. “It feels good to turn the game around as a team.”
“They responded well,” Batts added. “It became a team effort, that’s the thing I was happiest with the most.”
The Lady Bears hosted Magdalena Feb. 20.