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Kyrah Gonzales puts up a running jumper Friday against Silver at Bulldog Pit. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

The Lady Bulldog basketball team fought a war of attrition from the field Saturday in the title game of the City of Champions Classic, hitting just eight baskets in a lopsided loss to the Carlsbad Cavegirls, 54-17.

Down 29-12 at the half, a scoreless third quarter for Artesia allowed Carlsbad to put the mercy-rule clock in motion to start the fourth. The Lady ‘Dogs added just two baskets to their total in the final eight minutes to finish 8-26 overall. And while the Cavegirls didn’t have the most accurate of nights, they more than doubled Artesia’s attempts to cruise to their third consecutive City of Champs Classic win.

“We were outmatched tonight,” head coach Jeff Houghtaling said Saturday.

The Lady ‘Dogs got off to a shaky start offensively Saturday, hindered heavily by turnovers as they struggled to cope with Carlsbad’s full-court pressure.

The Artesia girls turned the ball over 11 times in the first half, eight in the second quarter alone, and had just 14 attempts from the field in the opening quarters to the Cavegirls’ 34.

Carlsbad took advantage of both that and the size difference inside, beating the Lady Bulldogs consistently on the boards. Of the Cavegirls’ 12 first-half buckets, nine were scored on second or third attempts.

Down 40 to start the game, Artesia got on the board with a hard drive to the hoop by Alexa Riggs and, following back-to-back jumpers by Kali Crandall and Gracie Puentes, would find themselves down by just three, 9-6, with 2:24 remaining in the first. Carlsbad would make it 13-6 before period’s end, however, and would score in bursts in the second to continue to pull away.

Gracie Tesillo kicked off the quarter with a floater in the lane, but the Cavegirls reeled off 11 unanswered to take a devastating 24-8 advantage as the Lady ‘Dogs battled to break the press. Puentes finally delivered the team’s second basket of the quarter with 3:23 left in the half and Crandall added an offensive putback, but down by 17 at the break, 29-12, the girls in orange needed to come out gangbusters in the third.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be. Amidst seven additional turnovers, the Lady Bulldogs were held scoreless to start the second half while Carlsbad tacked on 18 to lead by 35 heading into the fourth, 47-12.

Not until the final three-and-a-half minutes of play did the Lady ‘Dogs end their second-half drought on a running jumper by Kyrah Gonzales. Gonzales would round out the final a minute later with a trey to lead Artesia in scoring with five points.

Kim Best finished with 13 for Carlsbad and Carsyn Boswell 10.

Best, Boswell and Mariel Gomez were named to the All-Tournament Team, as were Gonzales, Puentes and Riggs.

“Great effort but poor execution on offense,” said Houghtaling. “We will continue to work on getting better each day and focus on free throws and rebounding in preparation for our next games.

“Great crowd, great tournament.”

Artesia 43, Silver 38

The Lady Bulldogs overcame slim deficits in both the first and third quarters Friday to defeat the Lady Colts of Silver City 43-38 to advance to Saturday’s title game.

Artesia got off to a quick start with jumpers from Puentes and Gonzales and a trey from the latter, 7-1, but fell behind late in the first thanks to an 11-0 run by the Colts. Gonzales and Puentes logged consecutive buckets and Laci Taylor a pair from the stripe to pull the Lady ‘Dogs back within one going into the second, however, 14-13.

Silver again reeled off a chunk of unanswered points to start the period, but Artesia closed out the half with buckets by Kali Crandall, Puentes and Mikinli Taylor, and a three by Alexa Riggs to lead at the break, 22-21.

A low-scoring third saw the Artesia girls trailing again heading into the fourth, 31-29, but a breakaway layup by Riggs and Gonzales trey put the Lady Bulldogs back in the lead and buckets by Puentes and Stacia Martinez gave them some breathing room, 38-33.

The Lady Colts were able to inch back within a pair, 40-38, but a Tesillo free throw and two from Gonzales held them at bay in the final moments, 43-38.