Grady’s Brittany Bailey drives to the basket past Cliff’s Kaya Mayberry during the first half of a Class 1A quarterfinal game Tuesday in Bernalillo. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
BERNALILLO — The Grady Lady Bronchos are back in the state Class 1A semifinals — and facing a familiar foe.
Senior Jennifer Blackburn hit four 3-pointers and scored 21 points Tuesday as Grady outlasted Cliff 41-33, beating the Cowgirls in the quarterfinal round for the second year in a row.
Grady (23-7) takes on Fort Sumner (28-1), which won its first-round game against Magdalena 61-44, in Thursday’s 3 p.m. semifinal at Bernalillo.
Sophomore Aerial Verble scored seven of her 11 points in the final quarter as Grady erased a 31-30 deficit in the final four minutes. Blackburn’s final 3-pointer from the key gave the Lady Bronchos the lead for good.
“We didn’t play very well,” Grady coach Alicia Rush said. “I think we overlooked them. But they (Lady Bronchos) did keep their heads about them (late) and took care of business.”
Grady erased an early 4-0 deficit with a 13-2 run over a six-minute span that included two 3-pointers by Blackburn, each of which put her team ahead.
“We’re obviously the underdog,” Rush said of the semifinal matchup. “There isn’t any pressure on us; I hope we can (play better); if we don’t, it’ll get ugly in a hurry.”
Blackburn said she felt pretty good about the Lady Bronchos’ chances, even though it took them a long time to put away the youthful Cowgirls, who dressed five sophomores and four freshmen.
“Some games, you just have a mindset you’re going to pull it out,” Blackburn said. “I was a little nervous, but I felt like we would win.”
Tristen Finch, a 5 -foot-11 sophomore, led the Cowgirls with 16 points.