. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Paityn Houghtaling sends a shot past Lady Rocket Cheyenne Lopez during the second quarter. (Brienne Green - Daily Press)

Paityn Houghtaling sends a shot past Lady Rocket Cheyenne Lopez during the second quarter. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

Tied with the Lady Rockets of Goddard coming out of the  first quarter Friday, the Lady Bulldog basketball team was playing well.

Turnovers were kept to a minimum, and the Artesia girls were being patient on offense, taking the shots that felt comfortable rather than forcing it. And while Goddard was able to put together a run in the final minutes of the second, the Lady ‘Dogs were down by just 10 at the break, 28-18, a far cry from their 32-11 halftime deficit in the teams’ first meeting.

But in the third period of play, the shooting curse returned. With a vengeance.

Artesia missed all 16 of their shots in the quarter, managing just five points from the free-throw line. It was all opening the Lady Rockets needed to put the contest out of reach. And with just two buckets made in the fourth out of 31 total second-half attempts, the Lady Bulldogs went down in defeat in their regular-season finale, 52-30.

The girls in orange kicked off the Pack the Pit outing shooting well, particularly from the perimeter.

Alexa Riggs matched an opening three-pointer by Goddard’s Katherine Kolker and Alissa Wagner did the same to Micaela Kolker to keep the scoring neck-and-neck. A layup and a free throw from Gracie Puentes knotted the game at 9-all, and a second trey from Riggs gave the Lady Bulldogs the lead with 2:09 to go in the period, 12-11.

The Lady Rockets were able to pick up a free throw to reinstate the deadlock going into the second, however, and surged from there, posting eight unanswered points to go up 20-12.

A breakaway layup off the steal by Wagner helped pull Artesia back within five, and after six more from Goddard, the senior drained a three to keep the deficit manageable at the half, 28-18.

But the drought from the field that followed in the third was the nail in the coffin. Puentes went 3-4 from the stripe in the quarter and Wagner and Stacia Martinez added a free throw apiece to keep Artesia from going scoreless, but the Lady Rockets held a comfortable 42-23 edge going into the fourth.

An early basket by Puentes and a Paityn Houghtaling shot off the glass midway through the fourth comprised the bulk of Artesia’s scoring in the fourth.

The Lady ‘Dogs finished 15 percent from the field to Goddard’s 50, a frustrating statistic considering the team performed well in all other aspects of the game, limiting their turnovers to 13 while forcing 22 by the Lady Rockets.

Puentes and Wagner led Artesia in scoring with nine points each, followed by Riggs with six. Bailey Beene and Cheyenne Lopez posted 10 apiece for the Rockets.

With the loss, the Lady Bulldogs (5-20) dropped to 0-6 in district play and, as the No. 4 seed, will travel in the first round of the District 4-AAAAA Tournament.