By Arnie Leshin
The St. Michael’s and Pecos boys took to the highways Saturday and came away with impressive district basketball wins.
The first-place Horsemen won their sixth-straight District 2-3A game by dominating Raton, 71-33, and in 7-2A, the top-ranked Panthers humiliated Texico for the second year in a row, this time carrying off a 70-37 victory.
In last year’s state 2A final, Pecos won a second-straight championship by rolling over the previously undefeated Wolverines by 18 points. On Feb. 22, Texico (16-4, 2-1) makes the 4 ½ hour trip to Pecos for the girls-boys doubleheader.
This, too, was a doubleheader, with the Panthers getting a split after their girls dropped a tight 55-53 contest versus top-ranked Texico.
St. Michael’s advanced to 15-7 overall in completing the sweep over the 6-12 Tigers (0-6 in district). Its defense came to play, holding the home team to just 13 points over the last three quarters. On offense, its balance brought at least eight points apiece from five players.
The Horsemen’s ride wasn’t as long as the one Pecos traveled, but it didn’t let the 2 ½ hours affect them. Freshman Derek Martinez and senior Derek McQuiston turned in nine points each, and junior Thomas Wood and senior Jevon Montoya each scored eight.
“Our guys have really been focused on playing harder and smarter,” said head coach David Rodriguez. “It’s easy to let down. First of all, you can let the trip affect you, which it didn’t, and the competition can affect you, too, and its human nature to let up, but the intensity was good.”
As for Pecos, it left no doubt of who’s in control of the district as they employed a 19-8 run in the second quarter that brought a 34-18 halftime advantage that it maintained.
Junior Xavier Padilla scored 17 of his 26 points in the second and third quarters as the Panthers upped their overall record to 19-3 and was their third straight win in district. They made a huge run in the third quarter to claim a 62-36 lead heading into the last quarter.
Senior Omar Dominquez added 24 points, with 18 coming in the second half, and junior Anthony Armijo contributed 16.
In 2-4A at Espanola Valley, it was a close contest until the Sundevils went on a 25-11 run late in the game to prevail 65-53 and advance to 14-8 overall and 5-0 in district. In the final eight minutes, Ryan Trujillo and Christian Aspuro scored all of the Espanola points. Trujillo had the game-high 29 points.
The home team was also led by freshmen Ollie Fell and Garrett May. They combined to cut into the Elks’ 12-point third quarter lead. They helped trim the gap to 42-40 as the final quarter began. Pojoaque fell to 7-15 overall and 2-3 in district. Noah de la Cruz had the high of 18 points for the visitors.