Key loss in district for the Horsemen as they come up short on free throws and fail to contain the shooting of Cardinals’ senior Arjay Ortiz and junior Emilano Berged
By Arnie Leshin
Its winter, so perhaps the St. Michael’s boy’s basketball team thinks it is okay to be cold from the free throw line, expect that it’s turning into a bad habit and Friday night it proved to be costly again when visiting Las Vegas Robertson carted off a 70-53 win over the Horsemen.
It wasn’t only poor foul shooting that determined this key District 2-4A test, with the home team also missing quite a few layups and not able to keep up with the visitors who maintained their lead from the start.
The Cardinals got away to a quick lead, ahead 21-10 after one quarter and 33-19 at halftime. It kept them in stride to contend for maybe the runner-up spot in district, where they are currently at 2-3, and damage St. Michael’s bid for first place as it dropped to 3-2.
In the district opener last month at Robertson, the Horsemen (10-14) had no problem disposing of their rivals, but this time it was Cardinal time as 6-foot-3 senior Arjay Ortiz paved the way with a game-high 21 points, 17 coming in the first half.
That’s the same Ortiz who quarterbacked the football team for three years and gave St. Michael’s fits. He has declared for New Mexico Highlands to play football, but now it was his night to fill the nets.
The Cards remained on top the entire game. The Horsemen were only outscored 37-34 in the last two quarters, but the game had already gotten away from them. They failed from the foul line, but didn’t shoot much better from the field and made too many turnovers as the visitors left at 8-14 overall.
Now Taos (4-1) is alone in first place, and so it’s another key game when St. Michael’s visits next week. Friday night, the Tigers clawed Pojoaque Valley, 63-36, in district play. Right behind at 3-1 is West Las Vegas, and St. Michael’s, Robertson and Pojoaque follow.
The Cardinals also had a tough line tossing in free throws, making good on only 8 of 19 attempts, but they took care of the ball better, got sharpshooting from Ortiz the swing man and 6-2 junior forward Emillano Berged turned in 17 of his 19 points in the second half.
For the Horsemen, 6-foot junior guard Jevon Montoya scored 18, 6-foot senior guard Antonio Gabaldon added 11 and 6-2 junior Dominick Morgan tallied nine.
New Mexico School for the Deaf remained in the runner-up spot in 1-1A by disposing of Santa Fe Waldorf, 72-54, at the Christian Life Academy. It was 6-9 junior Devon Thompson who showed the way for the Roadrunners with the game-high 42 points, and his team advanced to 12-4 overall and 3-1 in district.
In 2-3A, Espanola McCurdy moved 13-7 overall and 1-1 in district by upending Monte del Sol, 54-47, and dropping the Dragons to 13-10 and 1-2.
In 2-5A, first place and top-ranked in its class, Espanola Valley won handily on the road, 97-65, at Albuquerque Academy. In 5-4A, first place Bernalillo rolled over Bosque School, 76-37, in Albuquerque.
In 1-6A, it was Piedra Vista winning a tight 45-41 contest over Albuquerque Cibola, and Rio Rancho Cleveland easily won bragging rights by overwhelming main-rival Rio Rancho High, 108-77.
In 2-6A tonight, Santa Fe High’s boys travel to Albuquerque Sandia.