By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
ALBUQUERQUE — Things seemed easy at the start for Fort Sumner’s girls. Too easy, actually.
Down by 10 points at halftime, the three-time defending Class 1A girls champion Des Moines didn’t go down without a fight.
But Fort Sumner held on for a 46-42 victory, avenging its only loss of the season in last week’s regional finals.
The Vixens (30-1) can add the basketball title to the volleyball title they won in the fall — again at the expense of Des Moines.
Fort Sumner last won a basketball title in 1997.
“I just had a really good feeling when I went to bed last night,” Vixens senior point guard Leslie Wood said. “I didn’t have that feeling before regionals, but today was different.”
Senior Sandy Fortner, who had two 3-pointers and eight of her team-high 15 points in the opening period to spark a 15-5 start, said last week’s loss — and a three-point setback to the Lady Demons (28-3) in last year’s state semifinals — gave her team incentive.
“Yeah, probably a little extra,” she said, adding that people doubted the Vixens after last week’s 59-42 setback at Des Moines. “We wanted to prove everybody wrong.
“We’re a much different team than last year; we’re better. It doesn’t matter what the score is at halftime, to us it’s 0-0 and we know we’ve got to refocus.”
Senior guard Jamie Atwater scored 20 points and junior post Kelli Goodan added 15 points and 17 rebounds for Des Moines, but the Lady Demons got only two field goals from the rest of their team.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this team,” said first-year Lady Demons coach Jimmy Doherty, also a Des Moines boys assistant. “A lot of people thought we’d be second (to Cimarron) in our district, but we had a tremendous year.
We’ve got some seniors who’ve left a great legacy.”
Sandy’s twin sister, Kelly Fortner, was plagued by foul problems and eventually fouled out early in the final period after playing only seven minutes, 17 seconds.