By Dave Wagner
CNJ SPORTS WRITER
ALBUQUERQUE — Apparently, the Elida Lady Tigers will retire as the unbeaten all-time kings of New Mexico’s soon-to-be-dispatched Class B.
Elida completed a four-peat in four-year-old Class B — it will be designated Class 1A next year when the New Mexico Activities Association juggles thing — by beating Corona in the finals for the third consecutive year on Friday at The Pit, this time by a 69-54 count.
Four Elida players scored in double figures, including a double-double by senior Hunter Haley (11 points, 13 assists), as the Lady Tigers (20-8) unofficially improved to 56-0 all-time against Class B opponents.
“It never gets old,” coach Dan Howard said of winning championships. “We were a little bit tight coming out. I just encouraged them (at halftime) to play a little bit harder, and we changed our offensive look a little bit.”
This time, though, the Lady Cardinals — 63-27 losers in last year’s final — put up a more spirited fight. Leading 15-13, though, Elida used a 15-4 run after Howard called timeout midway through the second period, and the margin was never under double figures in the second half.
“Elida’s just really good,” Corona coach Joseph Erramouspe said. “We had to beat them at their game. They’ve got size on us, and we just couldn’t stop them.”
Corona (19-6) led 4-2 early before Elida ran off seven points. The Lady Tigers’ biggest lead was 50-31 at the end of the third quarter.
Varela led Elida in scoring with 15 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, while senior post Kaylen Jasson added 13 points and freshman forward Taylor Epps scored 11. Meantime, freshman Madi Haley — Hunter’s sister — finished with nine points and a team-high nine rebounds.
Jasso, part of all four champions, said the Lady Cardinals made it tougher this time.
“They just get in there and do what they do,” she said. “But I was like, ‘We can’t let this slip out of our hands.’”
Sophomore guard Saige Bell scored 23 points for Corona, but was held to five in the first half. Meantime, junior guard Corey Egan finished with 14, but after making four 3-pointers in a semifinal win over Grady her lone 3 in this one came after the game was out of reach.