Jalyndria Jackson drives toward the basket early in the first quarter. Jackson was driving hard all night against the Belen defense.
Greg Byrd | El Defensor Chieftain


It was a one-win team going up against a nine-win team when the Belen Lady Eagles came to town for a Monday night showdown. Through three quarters, Belen was leading the whole way. In the fourth, the Lady Warriors tied it up and were able to pull it out in overtime 52-48.

“We’re not worried about that team having one win,” head coach Juan Alvarado said. “We just need to worry about ourselves. My philosophy has always been that I have to work on my team here. Hopefully, we can come out victorious but their record doesn’t mean anything. From one day to the other, these young kids can explode and surprise you and others can come out flat.”

Before varsity played, the JV teams played in the early evening. Coach Christie Chavez had to bring up some younger girls as she had some players out for the game.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit,” she said. “We’re short on girls so we had to bring up some eighth graders. It’s been a struggle fighting COVID and a lot of issues like that. But considering our numbers, the girls are doing well. Every game they’re getting better.”

Belen freshman Jada Wright scored right out of the gate to put the Lady Eagles in the driver’s seat. Socorro was being very aggressive on defense with freshman Ariana Crespin attacking the basketball. The problem for the Lady Warriors is that they could not buy a basket, scoring just 10 points in the first half.

It was more of the same domination for Belen in the second half. Socorro didn’t even score in the fourth for the first five minutes until Crespin hit one-of-two free throws. Shortly afterward Crespin went down with a right leg injury and would not return. 56-20 Belen was the final score.

Then the varsity girls came out. The crowd grew for both teams. Belen head coach Chris Storey was eyeing an upset before the game.

“This hasn’t been the best season record-wise,” he said. “But we feel that we are making a lot of improvement. This is a really young team, but we definitely know our record is not who we are. This group plays hard, and I guarantee we’re going to surprise somebody down the stretch. It could be tonight.”

In the first quarter, it very much looked like that could be a possibility as Belen came out firing, particularly with the tallest player on the floor, junior Maesyn Lopez, dominating in the middle. Keeping the Lady Warriors afloat was junior Jalyndria Jackson driving hard to the basket. It was 11-5 Belen after one.

This was a game of two vastly different coaching styles. Alvarado is more of a calming presence whereas Storey was like a Tasmanian Devil on the sidelines, who even had to be warned by the referee that he might be ejected.

The Lady Warriors were having similar issues finding the net as the JV team did, going into the locker-room down 10. In the third quarter, Socorro began to wake up. Transition plays were key. Senior Taelene Fowler had a spirit where she was scoring, assisting and rebounding on every play which brought them within two. It was a five-point game after three.

Belen did not give up in the fourth, but the Lady Warriors were just too much. Senior Savannah Castagnetto and Gabby Paz began to take control with tough play, which got them to overtime for the win.

This victory puts the Lady Warriors into double digits in the win column at 10-5. Socorro will next travel to Hatch Valley for a district showdown on February 1. The team will not be at home again until February 8 when Hot Springs visits.

3A District 3 standings:

  1. Socorro; 9-5.
  2. Hatch Valley; 7-7.
  3. Cobre; 2-14