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Home / News / Pecos’ boys just keep winning and everybody contributes as they roll past the field in the 72nd annual Northern New Mexico Rio Grande tournament played at Pojoaque Valley’s Ben Lujan Memorial court, capping it with Saturday night’s 59-23 romp over Mora for the 3-time state champions’ second-straight tournament title this season

Pecos’ boys just keep winning and everybody contributes as they roll past the field in the 72nd annual Northern New Mexico Rio Grande tournament played at Pojoaque Valley’s Ben Lujan Memorial court, capping it with Saturday night’s 59-23 romp over Mora for the 3-time state champions’ second-straight tournament title this season

By Arnie Leshin 
Arnie Leshin

Kudos to Tate Danis, a starting sophomore wing for the Questa boy’s basketball team. Young and still feeling his way around on the court, he doesn’t hesitate to comment on his young and out manned team being overwhelmed by Pecos.

It came in the opening round of the 72nd annual Northern New Mexico Rio Grande tournament played at Pojoaque Valley’s Ben Lujan Memorial gymnasium. The final score was 102-9 as the surging 3-time defending state champion Panthers went from there to their second-straight tournament championship capped by Saturday night‘s 59-23 romp over Mora to avenge last year’s loss in the final to the Rangers, who began this season at Pecos and were dominated 71-29.
Danis said he’d hang around for the title game after playing earlier in the consolation finals, which resulted in a 63-42 seventh place setback to Penasco, and where Danis had the team high of 11 points and provided whatever leadership he could as the Wildcats lost for the ninth time in 10 starts.
“I relish the chance to play a team like Pecos,” he said. “The final score was secondary as we just work hard to get better. Watching Pecos play brings a chance to learn a few things. For myself, it was a learning experience because they are so big,they do know their system really well, and their head coach is really, really good.”
No way did he think Panthers’ head coach Ira Harge, Jr. had intended to run up the score. He pointed out that Pecos kept running in player after player and it appeared its bench had emptied sometime in the second quarter. He added that the press that was applied in the early going was a-banded after the romp became evident.
“They were a class team,” he said, “never showing any signs of taunting, getting in our face, they just played and played well no matter who got in the game, and it was everybody.”
So much for Harge being accused of running up the score. He didn’t tell his team to slow down and interrupt their up and down the court style of play.
Said Harge: “Our goal was not to embarrass anybody. That was the last thing on our mind. We don’t do that.”
What his Panthers have done was go 83-7 over the last three seasons that brought two 3A and one 2A state tile. Now at 12-1, that totals a remarkable 95-8, with the lone defeat this season coming by eight points against 5A Santa Fe High in the Al Armendariz tournament played at Capital. In fact, this was Pecos’ third tournament and the first in a field of small schools, and comes straight after winning the Stu Clark tournament played at New Mexico Highlands University against the larger schools.
Mora couldn’t complain either. It became no contest early as Pecos quickly scored the first 15 points and already had a 21-4 advantage late in the first quarter. This was the way it went for Harge’s talented youngsters in the three tournament games. He replaced his starters, and again emptied his bench, and everybody did their part in just another quality team effort.
The Panthers did slow things down with a revolving door of younger players and reserves. Still, they built a 35-point lead and the running clock led to the mercy-rule ending. Pecos senior guard Xavier Padilla paved the way with the game-high 22 points, 21 coming in the first half. Only five players scored for Mora (5-6) and it didn’t reach 22 points until the closing seconds. Padilla and fellow seniors Ismael Villegas and Anthony Armijo have been around all three state-championship years.
Five of the Panthers’ next six game are at home against Hagerman, Dulce, at Pojoaque Valley, home to currently undefeated Magdalena and Tiucumcari, and then a visit from 5A Clovis. Five more wins give them 100 over the last 3 and 1/2 years. And if Danis thinks they are big, well Padilla at 6-foot-3 is the talented player, and after that it’s 6-1 and smaller Panthers.
In the game for third place, Mesa Vista edged Espanola McCurdy, 54-52, the fifth place contest went to Dulce over Escalante, 75-63, and then Danis and company bowed to Penasco.
In other boy’s games, Capital welcomed top-ranked, unbeaten Rio Rancho Cleveland, raced to a 16-point lead and were then run over by the 12-0 Storm with a 33-6 burst in the fourth quarter powered by 6-3 junior Tre Watson’s game-high 33 points that included 23 over the final eight minutes that stunned the Jaguar fans and brought a 75-64 defeat, Capital’s second in a dozen games. Senior Antonio “TJ” Sanchez scored the team-high 32 points for the Jags.
Santa Fe High played at Albuquerque Academy and had no problem carrying away a 66-42 win that upped its record to 11-2 as 6-6 Demons’ junior Fedonta “JB” White had a stellar all-around game with 24 points and 15 rebounds. Santa Fe High’s next game is Saturday versus visiting Clovis. Up at Los Alamos, the Hilltoppers lost to Belen, 68-51.

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