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It’s been a difficult week offensively thus far for the Lady Bulldog basketball team at the Alamogordo Holiday Tournament, but heading into their final day of competition, head coach Jeff Houghtaling is confident his team is getting out of the trip exactly what they needed: experience.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, their chance at gaining a healthy dose of the same this week was buried under a few feet of snow, as winter storm Goliath prompted the cancellation of Roswell’s venerable Poe Corn Invitational.

The opportunity to face off against some of the top teams in Class 5A gone, the ‘Dogs have spent this week hard at work in the gym in preparation for the resumption of their schedule Jan. 2 against Centennial in Las Cruces.

“It’s kind of like a double-edged sword,” Bulldog head coach Michael Mondragon said today. “We really wanted to play, and we’re obviously disappointed the tournament got cancelled. But at the same time, it’s a great opportunity for us to get that needed practice time we keep talking about.

“To have five straight days of practice before we go up to play a really good Centennial team is great. We need it, we’re definitely working hard this week, and we’re looking forward to getting back in action Saturday.”

It’s easy to forget – what with the whirlwind that was Artesia’s quick transition from football to basketball mode and the holidays that swiftly followed – that, going into this week, the ‘Dogs and Lady ‘Dogs had just six and eight games respectively under their belts, with three apiece of those coming at the City of Champions Classic.

After receiving a later start time Monday and making their way carefully to Alamo, the Artesia girls have been able to tack two more to that total thus far against quality 5A and 6A competition.

The Lady Bulldogs opened the tournament against 6A Atrisco Heritage, falling 51-38. They fared better Tuesday afternoon versus classmate Chaparral but came up two points short of the Lady Lobos, 42-40.

“It was a really good effort,” Houghtaling said Tuesday. “We’re doing a lot of good things, we’re just struggling from the field. And while we’re having a hard time getting shots to go in, it seems like we’re getting the other team’s best shooting effort every time.”

The Lady ‘Dogs have a shot at ending the tourney on a high note today against El Paso Austin, but regardless of the outcome, the trip has done the team well.

“This tournament is serving its purpose,” Houghtaling said. “We’re getting better as a team, we’re learning how to compete on the road together, and our team chemistry is developing. Getting these three games in three days does a lot of good things for you.

“Offensively, we’re doing a really good job executing, we just need to get some shots to fall, and defensively, I feel like our man-to-man is really coming along. It’s been a good tournament so far, and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, will continue to build some chemistry of their own before retaking the court for a busy first week of January that will include the Centennial outing as well as trips to Portales and the Gallup Invitational.

“The biggest thing for us is just improvement,” said Mondragon. “We need to improve in all aspects of our game. We’ve got to do a better job of taking care of the ball. Turnovers have been our Achilles heel this year. Also just shooting the ball better, executing, and playing better as a whole team.

“We’re going to use this week of practice to make that happen.”