Lady Jaguars lose 11-point lead, fall to Goddard 45-40 in semifinal of Armendariz Classic
Half an hour after Capital’s girls basketball game ended Friday night, Kyannah Cole limped into view as she rounded a corner that separates the main gymnasium from the locker room.
Unwilling — unable, really — to sit down on top of the wrestling mats resting against the wall about 30 feet down a short ramp, Cole instead leaned against an emergency exit door and waited to answer questions.
Her shoes were off and her legs were hidden beneath a pair of black warmup pants. Her feet, still sweaty from the game she’d just played, left small steam outlines of her feet on the floor.
Clearly in pain, she spoke for a few minutes about why she fights back tears and deals with the discomfort — all for the sake of wearing a Lady Jaguars uniform.
“Senior year,” she said. “I’m not taking time off. I mean, I guess I could, but it’s my last chance to do this so no, no way am I not playing.”
There’s a lot to Cole’s story, but first the short of it: She scored 14 points in Capital’s 45-40 loss to Roswell Goddard in Friday’s semifinals of the Al Armendariz Classic. Her team blew an 11-point lead and went nearly six minutes into the fourth quarter before scoring.
It all added up to a tough loss that showed two things at the same time. First, the Jags are still figuring out how to win and need time to master that task; second, shooting the ball accurately is not the team’s strong point this early in the season.
“A couple of those shots started to fall tonight but, yeah, it hasn’t been easy,” said Capital head coach Darren Casados.
The loss drops the Lady Jaguars (1-2) into Saturday’s consolation game against Santa Fe High. The Demonettes (1-1) were beaten by Rio Rancho Cleveland, 48-33, in Friday’s other semifinal.
Cleveland and Goddard will meet in the championship game at 5 p.m. Saturday while the all-city third place game starts at 2 p.m.
Española Valley and Aztec both won by single digits in Friday’s consolation round and will face one another Saturday morning for fifth place. Pecos, which fell 43-36 to Española, and Grants (a 50-41 loser to Aztec) round out the field and will play for seventh.
The fact that Capital is hanging tough in games like Friday says a lot about the progress the program has made under Casados. The players have literally had to learn how to be successful, to learn how to close games out.
“We’re getting better but it does take a while,” Casados said. “We’ve come a long way and you can see it, but games like this are tough. We go cold and make the turnovers the way we did at the wrong times.”
Up 36-31 through three quarters, Capital gave up seven straight points over a six-minute span to fall behind. Goddard extended it, using a 14-2 run to open the quarter to seize control.
It wasn’t until Jaci Cole, an offseason transfer from Espanola, scored on a cutback with 31 seconds left that the Lady Jaguars showed signs of real life. A Goddard turnover moments later gave Capital another two point-blank shots that came up empty.
Just like that, the game was over and the pain in Kyannah Cole’s legs poured in. Lest anyone forget, she tore the posterior cruciate ligament in her right knee just one game into the district schedule in January. She missed the rest of the season but never did have to go under the knife.
The joint healed on its own, but it forced Cole to start wearing a heavy brace to stabilize the joint.
“It’s fine, but I can’t hyperextend it at all,” she said.
But that’s not the problem. In the team’s season opener last week against Pojoaque Valley, she hyperextended the left knee and has since dealt with an ankle issue.
During games she looks no worse for the wear. She runs, jumps and does things like anyone else. It just takes a lot of prep work to make it happen.
Before games she’ll go into the training room and ride a stationary bike to get both knees limbered up. After that, it’s individual stretching with the team trainer. Then ice. Then maybe a quick nap and more stretching.
“Even with all that, after a game all the pain just comes right back,” Cole said. “Like right now I’m really feeling it.”
Feeling it so much that it literally seemed to take work for her to stand up while she was being interviewed. Any more weight against that emergency exit door might have sent it flying open and setting off fire alarms.
Her injury is now part of a growing list of ailments making Casados’s life harder as the head coach. He lost starter Deanza Booker during volleyball season when she went down with a serious knee injury.
Also out for the duration of the tournament is junior Mariah Rosas. She exited Thursday’s opening round with a severely sprained ankle and she spent Friday night hobbling around on crutches under the basket during pregame warmups.
As he spoke about Booker’s injury, Casados glance in the direction of Cole as she she struggled to find a comfortable posture while standing off off to the side.
For Cole, it’s just one of those things. For a senior, it’s no longer a question of if she’ll play, but how much time she can spend on the court trying to improve on last season’s 14-win campaign that came oh-so-close to a district tournament title.
“My legs really hurt but I can’t let that stop me,” she said. “I’m a senior and if there’s a way I can get out there and play, I’m going to play.”
Goddard 45, Capital 40: Alyssa Martinez had nine points in the loss for the Lady Jaguars, including two of the team’s four points in the fourth quarter. Her bucket with just over two minutes remaining snapped the team’s aforementioned scoreless drought. Ethena Silva added seven points in the loss.
Cleveland 48, Santa Fe High 33: Mari Fernandez scored five of her team-high 11 points for the Demonettes (1-1) in the fourth quarter. Amber Lucero added nine and Taylor Salazar six.
Española Valley 43, Pecos 36: Jaylynn Padilla had a team-high 14 points for the Lady Sundevils (1-1), scoring 10 of her points in the second half. Anita DeAguero added nine and Kaylinn Martinez eight.
Pecos had a game-high 15 from Cassie Muller and 10 from Brittney Martinez. Martinez scored eight of her points in the fourth quarter.