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Santa Fe High and St. Michael’s win in boys basketball

Santa Fe High boys start well at home Tuesday night in District 2-6A opening win over Albuquerque Sandia, while St. Michael’s boys do the same in 2-4A opener at Las Vegas Robertson

Demons win 37-32, Horsemen 67-52, but Santa Fe High girls drop district opener, 57-53, to Sandia

By Arnie Leshin
Arnie Leshin

The Santa Fe High boys stayed home and the St. Michael’s boys took to the road Tuesday night to post victories in their respective district basketball openers.

The Demons had their run-and-gun game slowed down in the 37-32 District 2-6A win over Albuquerque Sandia at Toby Roybal Memorial gymnasium, but handled it, upped their overall record to 9-8, and ran their winning streak to four while the Matadors (8-9) dropped their sixth in a row.

For the District 2-4A Horsemen, it was just the way to go after losing eight of their last nine under new head coach David Rodriguez. It was just the right time and the right place in the 67-52 triumph at Las Vegas Robertson.

It put St. Michael’s at 7-11 overall and the Cardinals at 5-12.

The Santa Fe High girls weren’t as fortunate, dropping their district opener, 58-53, at Sandia and snapping their win streak at four and falling to 9-8 overall. The Matadors are now 4-10 and won for the first time in their last five starts.

In 5-4A, Santa Fe Indian School girls had an easy tine rolling over visiting Albuquerque Sandia Prep, 72-37, and putting their record at 12-4 overall in the district opener. The Sun Devils are now 3-12.

In Los Alamos, the Albuquerque Del Norte girls posted a 39-36 victory over the Hilltoppers in the 2-5A opener. The Knights advanced to 8-9 overall and Los Alamos dropped to 5-13.

In a 2-5A girls match-up at Espanola Valley, the home side prevailed, 37-30, over Albuquerque Academy and became 7-9 overall while the Chargers fell to 3-15.
The Pecos girls had their way in the 3A doubleheader at non district opponent Estancia, winning 63-44 in the opener, but in the closer, the Panther boys were turned back 83-72 and had their 9-game win skein halted.

The Estancia boys won their 12th in 13 starts and now lead the class while Pecos’ defending state 3A champions lost for the third time in 16 games.
But the Panther girls advanced to 11-3 with their fifth-straight win and knocked Estancia down to 2-11.

Desert Academy’s girls moved to 4-8 and handing winless Santa Fe Prep a 27-15 setback, its eighth in a row in the 3A contest at Prep.

Up at Taos in 2-4A boy’s play, the Tigers went over .500 at 10-9 by dominating Pojoaque Valley, 58-32, while the Elks fell to 8-10.

The Santa Fe High boys feature a running game, but Sandia wouldn’t allow it and ran the clock down each time it had possession. The Demons made some changes to their defense, but the visitors’ 7-2 run in the second quarter brought a 14-11 lead with 2:47 remaining in the half.

“It was tough,” said Demons’ senior forward Diego Salinas. “Talking and running around is hard. We communicated well, but it was tough.”

Meanwhile, the switch from man-to-man to a zone by Santa Fe High head coach Zack Cole shut down the Sandia scoring. Cole said it was time to stop expanding so much energy playing man-to-man, so he alternated with a 2-3 and 1-1-3 zone and it put pressure on the Matador guards.

Sandia was up 16-15 with 5:15 to go in the third quarter, but in its next five possessions brought four straight turnovers and a missed shot. With that, the Demons grabbed a 19-16 advantage, and in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter finally got the pace up to their speed and upped their lead to 26-18 with six minutes to go.

In the stretch run, Santa Fe High converted 4-of-4 free throws while Sandia missed four of their last five attempts from the floor.

Cole said it was important for the team to start playing well at this point of the season, and that this win was building open last week’s over Capital High. What was also key is the way his team responded to the Matadors’ slowdown, which was better now than later when unexpected.

Santa Fe High plays Saturday night at Albuquerque La Cueva, and the Demonettes are home to La Cueva the same night.

Meanwhile, St. Michael’s showed up at Robertson with a tight defense and good offense. Consistency has been a problem with new head coach David Rodriguez’ team, but they held the upper hand at Michael Marr gymnasium.

“We took care of the ball and played four quarters” Rodriguez said. “In the third quarter, which has been our Achilles heel, we outscored them 16-12. The other good part was pressing them 90 percent of the time and pushing the ball hard.”

Victor Otero had a breakout game for the Horsemen, tuning in the team-high 13 points that included four 3-pointerrs. Junior Dominic Morgan added 12 points and senior Antonio Gabaldon tossed in 11.

Now St. Michael’s will be home Friday night for a visit from district foe Taos, with a victory here bringing more confidence to the Horsemen. The Lady Horsemen will be at Robertson tonight.

As for the Pecos boys, it was their first loss to a fellow 3A school since losing to Texico in the 2016 semifinals. It fell behind 45-27 at halftime, made a run, but couldn’t catch the Bears, who lost for the first time last week.

In 4-5A boys tonight, Indian School heads for Sandia Prep, and in 2-5A Los Alamos plays at Del Norte and Espanola is at Albuquerque Academy. And in another girl’s 2-4A contest, Taos is at Pojoaque.

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