By Eric Norwood Jr.
CNJ STAFF WRITER
PORTALES — The Tatum Lady Coyotes just keep rolling through their schedule.
Tatum secured its second consecutive EPAC girls tournament championship on Saturday at Greyhound Arena with a 50-36 victory over the Texico Lady Wolverines in a rematch of last year’s final.
The Lady Coyotes (13-0) held on despite a strong fourth-quarter rally led by Texico post Brianna Reyna, who scored 12 of her game-high 18 points in the final period for the Lady Wolverines (7-4).
Despite a late scare in the fourth after a dominating quarter by Texico post Brianna Reyna, Tatum held on for the title.
“We had to game-plan for her,” Tatum coach Greg Slover said. “We knew what she could do.
Abby Medlin paced Tatum with 25 points, including 12-of-13 free throws,.
After a low-scoring first quarter ended with Tatum holding a 9-7 lead, Kynzie McNeil made a steal to open the second quarter to prevent Texico from pulling even. On Tatum’s next possession, Medlin missed a lay-up but grabbed her own rebound and put it in to start a surge which lifted Tatum into a 26-18 halftime advantage.
“She’s been doing that for us all year,” Slover said. “We rely on her to keep things under control.”
Medlin kept the momentum going by scoring the first two points of the second half. Another McNeil steal led to a three-point play by Bianca Alvarez, giving the Lady Coyotes their biggest lead of the game to that point at 33-20.
No one scored for almost three minutes before Medlin buried a 3-pointer. Tatum led 40-24 entering the final stanza.
After Tatum held the ball for almost two minutes to start the fourth quarter, Reyna made a steal and converted a three-point play to make it 39-27. Reyna then attempted to take over the game herself, and almost succeeded.
Down 39-29, In a span of less than a minute, Reyna converted another three-point play, then stole the ball in the backcourt and put back her own miss to cut the Tatum lead to five with three minutes remaining.
“Midway through the third quarter, we decided we were going to make a run,” said Texico coach Richard Luscombe.
Texico couldn’t pull it out, as Tatum’s closer Medlin made a lay-up and the Lady Wolverines never got closer. “We got it down to four, but we missed some shots and all you can ask for is a shot.
“We’re a very young team, and this game will hopefully help us build toward the rest of the season.”
Third place — The Logan Lady Longhorns built a 20-point halftime lead and held off Melrose 72-61 behind 22 points from Shana Sorrels and 20 from Brooke Rachor.
Caley Barnard scored 23 points and Addisen Dial added 21 for the Lady Buffs (7-6), who cut the deficit into single figures several times in a rematch of last year’s Class 1A championship game between District 3-1A rivals, won by Logan.
Kippi Webb added 13 points for the Lady Longhorns (10-3).