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.
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.