Horsemen led from the start, with four players scoring
in double figures, and dropping the Jaguars to 10-2
By Arnie Leshin
This time, St. Michael’s boys were motivated, marched to the foul line, and were able to handle the pressure defense of visiting cross-town rival Capital High, and that brought an impressive 63-50 win in the non district game Tuesday night.
It was a packed house in the Perez-Shelley gymnasium, and the Horsemen rewarded their fans by avenging the 73-37 setback back on Dec. 8 to the Jaguars. This time, they led from the start, got Capital into foul problems, and handed the Jags (10-2) only their second defeat in a dozen starts.
And St. Michael’s improved to 5-3 as Rodriguez now sets his sights on a visit from Santa Fe High, where he coached for two decades, Friday night.
“Last time we played Capital,” he said, “we were very tentative, didn’t shoot well, and were hurt by their press defense, but this time it was motivation, doing well against their defense, and handling the ball well.”
For Rodriguez, it was also his first key win in his first season as head coach, especially since it was against a good Capital team and his team showing how well it responded to the previous loss .
The Horsemen displayed a balanced attack, with four players in double figures and plenty of free throws. Junior guard Jevon Montotya showed the way with 16 points and he converted 10-of-14 foul shots. Then there was junior Dominic Morgan adding 15 points and making good on 7-of-10 freebies.
In all, as a team, it went 28 for 43 from the foul line.
Rounding out the double-digit scoring was junior Thomas Wood, son of St. Michael’s girl’s head coach Martin Esquibel, with 13 points and senior Antonio Gabaldon with 10.
“The players who came out from the football team have been really special,” Rodriguez said. “They have contributed real well.”
His Horsemen never looked back, extending their lead to 33-27 at halftime and increasing it to 14 in the third quarter before the Jaguars went on a run that fell short.
At Santa Fe High, unbeaten, visiting Los Lunas won its eighth start by turning in a 42-33 triumph and dropping the Demons to 4-6 in the non district contest.
The Demons didn’t have much of a night shooting or taking down rebounds. The Tigers held them to 12-for-43 shooting from the field and came away with 37 rebounds to 19 for the home team.
Los Lunas head coach Travis Julian told his team during the week that Santa Fe High is an up-tempo team, like to press, and even slow it down if need be.
And so it became more of a defensive battle that was close until the visitors went on a run by tossing in four-straight baskets and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe. This turned a 15-13 lead into a 25-18 advanatge.
The Demons did make a run in the fourth quarter behind freshman Cruz Martinez’ jump, plus a jumper and 3-pointer from Antonio Lovato and a runner in the lane, but the Tigers still stayed in front, 34-27. At one point down the stretch, Santa Fe High went cold and made good on only two of its final nine shots.
Even Los Lunas tried to help by tossing in only six of 15 free throws, the Demons didn’t take advantage of it. In the last 2:22 of the contest, the Tigers weren’t making many buckets but were taking down rebounds and upped their lead to 49-39.
At Pojoaque Valley, defending state 3A champion Pecos rolled over the Elks, 60-26, to run its record to 7-2 and drop Pojoaque to 2-5.
The Panthers led only 17-10 at halftime, but in the third quarter they extended their advantage to 48-19 with a 31-9 run. Seniors Josh DeHerrera and Mario Archuleta scored 10 each for Pecos.