By Arnie Leshin
Santa Fe High’s boys came away with the biggest prize, but the other schools from the City Different also did well at the annual Bobby Rodriguez Capital City basketball Invitational played at the Demons’ Toby Roybal Memorial gymnasium Saturday.
The final day began with the opening game tipping off around 8 in the morning, and the last game wound up at nearly 10 p.m.
And it was that finale that brought host Santa Fe High its first championship in 20 years of this tournament that began in 1960. Undefeated and matching up with Roswell, it figured to be tough, tight contest, and it was until the home team made is second half run of the 83-69 victory.
No, the Demons of head coach Zack Cole played well with their balanced attack, and took advantage of Roswell turnovers in game that was close until the Demons (6-0) took charge late in the third quarter to pull away with a 15-5 run that brought a 60-41 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
The Coyotes (4-1) were hit with early founds that had them sitting players and relying on their bench. As the fouls continued, they became frustrated as three starting players had four fouls apiece, and a fourth had three. What did hurt them were fouls committed inside. They went physical in the paint, especially on 6-foot-6 Demon sophomore, Fedonta “ J.B.” White.
And the aggressiveness worked against them when Taymon Burrola and Jasia Reese combined for a trio of charging calls. Taymon’s father, head coach Moses Burrola, became more upset with his own players rather than the officiating.
“Whether there calls there or not,” he said, “we have to overcome them and play our game, which we didn’t.”
What they did do was being called for 20 personals and committing 16 turnovers. But the Santa Fe High lead was only 32-27 at the half because of poor free throw shooting. Making good on only 13-of-24 freebies, it had a struggle until it began making shots and putting together a solid defense.
“Said Cole: “We should have been ahead by more, but that’s the way it went. We them to win the first four minutes of the third quarter, and that worked.”
Demons’ senior captain, Christian Kavanaugh, usually in there as a sparkplug and fiery defender, he was making shots this time, shooting from the perimeter for a trio of 3-pointers that keyed the third quarter run. Then he tossed in a three from the left wing and Santa Fe High’s players began an early celebration as the final quarter got underway.
“I didn’t shot well at all in the first half,” he said, “but it felt good to later make those three in a row to get us going down the stretch.”
The girl’s championship went to unbeaten Robertson in a 64-44 success against Portales. The Cardinals won their fourth in a row and dropped the Rams to 2-3. Turnovers hurt Portales as it committed 29, most of them leading to Robertson baskets.
In the other girl’s games, third place went to Santa Fe Indian School (3-1) in an unexpected 53-17 rout over Santa Fe High, which dropped to 3-4. Leanna Lewis paved the way for the Braves with a game-high 16 points, one less than the Demonettes’ total.
Fifth place belonged to St. Michael’s as it advanced to 4-3 by holding off Los Alamos with 56-51 triumph. The Lady Horsemen were helped greatly by the threesome of Carisa Padilla, Haley Garcia, and Joelyn Fernandez combining for 49 points, with Fernandez tossing in the game-high 17 points. The Hilltoppers lost their fifth in a row.
The seventh place game also went to one of the local schools as Capital (3-4) dealt winless Valencia its sixth-straight defeat, 31-29, behind 11 points from Ethena Silva, with five of them coming in the third quarter of the close contest. The Jaguars led at halftime, but were outscored 11-3 in the fourth quarter and 20-12 in the second half.
Then there were the other boy’s games.
Capital rolled over Valencia, 66-27, for third place in the clash between the Jaguars and increased its record to 5-2. T.J. Sanchez paved the way with 14 points, all coming in the first half, and Dominic Luna added 11 in dropping
the other Jags to 3-2.
Fifth place went to St. Michael’s as it became 3-1 by turning back Santa Fe Indian School, 63-54, with Jevon Montoya leading the way with 14 points and Connor Giatz checking in with 11. The Braves fell to 1-2 and their leading scorer was James Bridges with 21 points, 15 coming in the last quarter.
Taking seventh place was Alamogordo over Los Alamos in a tight 48-45 tussle that moved the Tigers to their first win in five starts and handing the winless Toppers their sixth setback in a row.
With this hoop-heavy day now history, The Santa Fe girls teams won the third and fifth place games, and the boys won the championship and swept third, fifth and seventh places.