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With Roswell High minus the services of leading scorer Jaedyn De La Cerda, the Lady Bulldog basketball team had a better-than-usual opportunity to make a little noise versus Class 5A’s top-ranked team Tuesday in Roswell.

But while the Artesia girls did a solid job of limiting the Lady Coyotes offensively through the first three quarters of play, they were unable to execute on the other end of the court, ultimately suffering their fifth District 4-AAAAA loss by a final of 54-25.

“I thought we did some good things last night,” head coach Jeff Houghtaling said today. “I thought we played pretty well on defense and held them to a pretty low score till the fourth quarter.

“They got away from us there, but I thought our defensive effort to that point was good. We mixed up our defenses quite a bit on them, we just struggled offensively. They’re a good pressure team. I thought we did a good job of handling their full-court press, but when we got into the half-court, we had a hard time generating some shots.”

The Lady ‘Dogs limited Roswell to 21 first-half points Tuesday but could only manage seven of their own.

Paityn Houghtaling accounted for the squad’s lone two points of the first quarter on a pair from the free-throw line. Artesia didn’t post its first field goal until the 3:20 mark of the second quarter, also courtesy of Houghtaling. It, a Gracie Puentes free throw, and a drive to the hoop by Kali Crandall in the final minute-and-a-half of the period comprised Artesia’s scoring there.

Roswell, meanwhile, did the bulk of its damage from the charity stripe in the first three quarters of play.

Of their 33 points heading into the fourth, 16 came at the line.

The Lady Bulldogs had a bit more success offensively in the third, going 5-9 from the line and logging a trey from Alexa Riggs and a Gonzales jumper but were down by 16, 33-17, heading into the fourth.

There, though Artesia notched a pair from beyond the arc by Riggs and Laci Taylor, the Lady Coyotes finally woke up from the field, delivering half of their game-total 16 field goals in the quarter, with 13 points coming from high-point Kaitlyn Holl alone.

The Lady Bulldogs finished with just six conversions from the field on the night.

“I don’t think it was anything other than a lack of patience,” Houghtaling said. “Any time we were patient, we got a pretty good shot in the paint or a look at a three. We just didn’t handle the pressure well.

“We had a good game plan, we just didn’t execute it, and we put them on the foul line too much last night. They hit a bunch of free throws, and it seemed like most of our fouls were away from the basket so we didn’t get to the line as much.”

The Lady Coyotes finished 19 of 31 from the stripe to Artesia’s 10-17.

Holl closed out the contest with 23 points to lead all scorers, while Riggs notched eight for Artesia.

“It was a tough game,” said Houghtaling. “Even though they were shorthanded, we just didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we had. But the effort was good. The kids are still in relatively good spirits. I don’t think they’re discouraged, and they’re still looking forward to a possible selection into the state tournament.”

The Lady Bulldogs (13-11, 0-5) could help their cause significantly with a win over Goddard Friday on the road.

The Artesia girls fell to the Lady Rockets 63-42 Feb. 3 at Bulldog Pit but had competed well against Goddard through the opening half of play before struggling to find the hoop in the second.

“We started looking at film from the last time we played them this morning,” Houghtaling said. “I thought we had a decent game plan the first time. It was a close game until toward the end when they kind of drifted away and we got cold, but I think we’re going to play well Friday.

“We have nothing to lose, and we’re going to approach the game that way. If we can sneak a win here, I think it would really go a long way in the seeding process, so we’re going to go up there, play hard, and see what happens.”