Getting out to a good start was imperative for Gallup against Española Valley in Saturday’s girls Class 4A basketball state championship finale at the Pit.

So, things couldn’t have gone much better than scoring the game’s first 10 points.

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“When starting fast, it gives us that energy that we need,” said Bengals post player Jordan Joe.

Enough energy to never trail and finish off a 63-51 victory, Gallup’s first championship since 2011, while the Sundevils were in the final game for the first time.

“In Gallup, we’re expected to be in this game year in and year out,” Bengals coach Todd McBroom said. “So it was exciting to go back.”

Gallup (14-1) showed its hand in their opening sequence, with 3-pointers from Michaela McCurtain and Trinity Juan, sandwiched around power moves down low from Joe and Hailey Long, and just like that it was 10-0 Bengals.

That outside-inside-outside game proved effective throughout the game.

“They had shooters. They had scorers. They had two big girls that we had a little trouble with,” Sundevils coach Joe Estrada said, noting the size discrepancy between the front courts that was about three inches and 40 or more pounds.

“And not just big, they can play. And when you surround that with shooters, you’ve got a great team.”

That’s not to say that Española went away easily. The Sundevils (13-2) made a 9-4 run to the start the second quarter, cutting the gap to 24-21, but Gallup hit right back with a 13-2 run to close the half.

“I told the girls at halftime, they’re going to make a run,” McBroom said of Española Valley. “That’s just how it works. They’re going to make a run, we just have to make sure to weather it.”

Indeed, Española had one more surge after falling behind 41-25 early in the third quarter. Anita DeArguero’s third and fourth 3s of the game sparked an 11-2 run that left it a 43-36 game going into the final quarter. Arguero finished with 18 points, and Miranda Sanchez had 10 for the Sundevils.

Enter Joe, who had been pretty quiet on the offense end until this point.

She scored eight of Gallup’s first 16 points in the fourth quarter, sinking any comeback thoughts.

“I wasn’t scoring the first two quarters, but after the third — and I knew I needed to score — after I got that momentum to score, that’s when I started shooting and making those easy baskets,” said Joe, who finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Matched with fellow post Long, who had 14 points and five rebounds, the Sundevils had no answer.

“These two are two of the best posts in the state, all classes,” McBroom said. “Some games they might be undersized. They were in the first two games this week, but they still took it to them. They’ve had great weeks.”

Joe and Long complement each other and the rest of the lineup well, he said.

“We always talk about whoever is open, we move the ball. I’m gonna tell you, out of the post, these two, it’s not like you’re going to throw it and you’re never going to see the ball again. If they get double-teamed, they’re quick to hit the shooters. And the shooters know that so they’re willing to throw it in there. Sometimes you play with posts, you throw it in, you know you’re never going to see it again. But that’s not the way with these two. They’re great passers from the post.”

No. 4 GALLUP 63, No. 2 ESPAÑOLA VALLEY 51

GALLUP (14-1): Trinity Juan 5-8 0-0 13; Kennedy Smiley 2-4 0-0 4; Michaela McCurtain 3-5 4-4 11; Jordan Joe 5-13 0-0 10; Hailey Long 7-11 0-0 14; Esther Cowboy 1-1 0-0 3; Cheyenne John 2-4 0-0 6; Savannah Watson 0-1 0-0 0; Lansia Joe 0-0 0-0 0; Kiera Livingston 0-0 0-0 0; Katherine Lincoln 0-0 0-0 0; Raven Tso 0-0 0-0 0; Daliyah Morris 0-1 0-0 0; Dakota Spencer 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 26-49 4-4 63

ESPAÑOLA VALLEY (13-2): Anita DeGuero 6-14 0-0 18; Miranda Salazar 3-12 2-2 10; Jasmaine Baca 0-8 4-6 4; Destiny Valdez 1-4 0-0 3; Kianna Duran 1-3 0-0 2; Jordan Torres 1-7 0-0 3; Cameron Conners 4-6 0-0 8; Christianne Sandoval 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 17-55 6-8 51

Gallup  20  17  6  20 — 63

Española Valley  12  11  13  15 — 51

3-point FGs: G 7-15 (Juan 3-5, McCurtain 1-3, Joe 0-2, Cowboy 1-1, John 2-3, Watson 0-1); EV 11-33 (DeArguero 6-12, Salazar 2-6, Baca 0-3, Valdez 1-3, Torres 1-7, Conners 0-1, Sandoval 1-1 ). Rebounds: G 39 (Joe 9); EV 21 (Salazar 8). Assists: G 20 (Smiley 6); EV 12 (Salazar 5). Turnovers: G 17; EV 9. Total fouls: G 10; EV 11. Fouled out: none.

Class 5A GIRLS (with bracket)

Class 4A GIRLS (with bracket)

Class 3A GIRLS (with bracket)

Class 2A GIRLS (with bracket)

Class 1A GIRLS (with bracket)

(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)

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