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Veronica Soto puts up a basket through double-team pressure during the first half Tuesday at Bulldog Pit. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

The Lady Bulldog basketball team got off to a bit of a slow start Tuesday against Chaparral at Bulldog Pit but came on gangbusters in the second quarter, taking a sizable lead they’d increase from there through the final horn in a 59-20 victory.

The Artesia girls managed just 10 points in the first quarter of the bout but were fortunately able to ensure the Lady Lobos had even less success from the field, forcing eight turnovers to help them carry a 10-5 advantage into the second.

“We started out a little sluggish, a little flat-footed,” head coach Jeff Houghtaling said following the contest. “We took a little bit of a different approach to our game plan, started in man-to-man instead of our zone. We’re going to have to play man down the road, so I wanted us to work on it, and it didn’t look great early on.

“We let them get a couple of easy buckets, and we were turning it over – sloppy, throwing it out of bounds turnovers. But once we shifted back and got into a little bit of our zone, pressed them, and made some baskets, we were able to turn it around.”

The Lady Bulldogs proceeded to outscore Chaparral 24-6 in the second quarter to right the ship, following an opening bucket by the Lady Lobos with 15 unanswered points, including six from Paityn Houghtaling, four from Brehnan Davis, and a Kyrah Gonzales trey.

Gonzales, Veronica Soto and Kaylee Wagner closed out the half with baskets in the paint to see Artesia up 34-11 at the break.

The Lady ‘Dogs would continue to hold Chaparral to single-digit scoring in each quarter through the final two quarters, using another Gonzales longball, two buckets from Houghtaling, and one each by Wagner, Davis and Soto to put the mercy-rule clock in motion in the latter stages of the third, 48-13.

A Houghtaling and-one and a layup, and a shot off the glass by Makinli Taylor expanded that advantage as the fourth quarter commenced, and although Chaparral’s Andrea Molina followed a Faith Evans offensive putback with a buzzer-beating trey, it could only bump the Lobos to 20 total points at the horn.

“Pressure is the key to beating them, and we knew that going in,” Coach Houghtaling said. “I just would’ve liked to have seen our man-to-man look at little sharper in the beginning.”

Houghtaling led all scorers on the night with 19, followed by Gonzales with 10, in a contest that saw the Lady ‘Dogs’ entire bench enter the fray.

“All the kids got to play, so it was a good night for that,” Coach Houghtaling said. “We had our cancer awareness event at the beginning, and all the girls had somebody with them to represent a survivor or in memory of someone, so that was really nice but also really emotional. That might’ve started us off a little slow, but everybody got in there and did their part. Even the girls who just had one quarter to give played well and contributed.”

Lady Bulldog senior Kyrah Gonzales joined the rest of the Artesia High School girls’ basketball team in walking out for the start of Tuesday’s game at Bulldog Pit accompanied by family members and friends who represented either cancer survivors or the memory of a loved one lost to the disease. The Lady ‘Dogs raised $346 in the Pink Out fundraiser. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

The Lady Bulldogs raised a total of $346 for cancer research through their Pink Out fundraiser Tuesday.

The Artesia girls (11-6) will now prepare to face a more significant challenge on Basketball Homecoming Friday with a 5:30 p.m. game against the Class 5A Carlsbad Cavegirls. The girls in blue have topped the Lady ‘Dogs twice this season, 7-23 Dec. 8 and 61-32 Jan. 8.

“It seems like it’s night and day with these games,” Houghtaling said. “We beat Santa Teresa bad and get beat bad by Hobbs, now we’ve beaten Chaparral bad and turn around to play Carlsbad. But these are good games for us. We really have to focus on getting prepared for district, and that’s got to start Friday night against Carlsbad.

“I’m looking for us to come out and play well on our court. We shot pretty well tonight, and I feel like we can continue that if we stay focused.”