Breaking News
Home / News / 8th-seeded Santa Fe High basketball team came up short

8th-seeded Santa Fe High basketball team came up short

By Arnie Leshin 
You had to figure it would end this way when 8th-seeded Santa Fe High went down to the final buzzer against the 9th-seeded visitors from Albuquerque Sandia at the Toby Roybal Memorial gymnasium Saturday night.
It was a back-and-forth game, a good game before a good turnout in the opening round of the boys basketball state tournament that the Matadors survived with a tight 49-46 victory and advanced them to Wednesday’s quarterfinals at top-seeded, undefeated Las Cruces. Everything fit right in, No. 9 Sandia with the size and depth, the No. 8 Demons with seven seniors and home court advantage.
Down by what amounted to the final score with the ball and 1:07 seconds showing on the scoreboard clock, Santa Fe High (22-6) went for the tie when senior Santi Montoya tossed up a shot about 20 feet from the left wing and it was short and hit the front of the rim.
Fellow senior Paul Lovato, a 4-year starter who has brought energy and other skills to the lineup, went for the rebound but it bounced off his hands and out of bounds.
“My fault,” Lovato said, “no one else, I just had it glance off my hands. It would have been great to have grabbed it and laid it back in, but it didn’t happen and that’s how our season ended.”
From there the Matadors had the ball and tried to run the clock down, and with 90 seconds left their 6-6 senior Sean Johnson took a pass inside, laid it back in, and it was now 49-40. But the Demons responded on baskets from a bucket from Lovato, a 3 from Elijah Apodoca, and one of two foul shots from Montoya, and it was down 49-46.
But the clock had now ticked down to 5.9 when Sandia junior Ely Lovato was fouled by Elefio Benavidez. It was a final shot for the home side if he missed the front end of the 1-and-1, which he did but the ball bounced off Apodoca and out of bounds as the final buzzer sounded and the Matadors pulled this one out.
The difference was probably Johnson. He had injured his shoulder in pre-season practice and the team lost three of its first five games. But when he returned, it ran off 15 wins in its next 18 starts, and on this night he came away with 21 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks, and a pair of steals.
Santa Fe High was hanging in there and early in the fourth quarter turned a 22-15 gap into a 36-35 lead, except that it then committed four costly turnovers and the Matadors were up 42-36 with about five minutes remaining. Apodoca then had a steal and layup to close to within 49-44 with just a minute left. But needing a last-second miracle, the missed freebie by Sandia’s Lovato became the final play.
The Demons were hurt by turnovers against a Matadors team with more size at about every position, and which pounded the ball inside. They were also only 5-for-26 from the perimeter, but never gave up and made several comebacks that just weren’t enough.
Meanwhile, Las Cruces became 28-0 with the 84-34 blowout of 16th-seeded Albuquerque High, one of the three District 5-5A teams in the field, the other being regular-season champion Los Lunas, the 6th-seed who got past 11th-seeded Rio Rancho Cleveland, 59-53, and now plays in Wednesday’s quarterfinals at 3-rd-seeded Albuquerque La Cueva, which dominated 14th-seed West Mesa, 57-34.

Check Also

Gods Encouraging Word of the day

“Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” Psalm 119:165 …