Jefferson grinds out 44-41 win over Lanier
Alexander Lopez scored 23 points in leading the Jefferson Mustangs to a grinding 44-41 win over the Lanier Voks in a District 27-5A game Friday at Alamo Convocation Center.
In a game that was a defensive struggle for both teams, Lopez was the only player to score in double figures, making two free throws with 3.33 seconds left to seal the win for the Mustangs. A desperation 3-pointer by Lanier’s Michael Munoz to tie the game at the buzzer was way off .
Lopez scored nine of his 23 points from free throws, connecting on nine of 11 attempts.
Jefferson coach Art Vela credited his team’s defense, as the Mustangs held Lanier’s top two scorers, Jesus Lares and Munoz, in check.
“That helped us getting those defensive stops against Lanier because it was a really physical game and the score was low,” Vela said. “Towards the end we were able to get some stops and we were able to come back and score.”
Trailing 32-29 going into the fourth period, Jefferson got key baskets from Lopez, Matthew Martinez and Frank Alvarado to take a 35-32 lead at the 5:05 mark. Lanier countered by scoring five straight points, including a 3-pointer by Brandon Martinez to regain the lead at 37-35 with 3:39 left.
Jefferson came back as Lopez scored on a running hook shot to tie the game at 37-37. After drawing an offensive charge, the Mustangs took the lead on to go up 39-37 and then held the Voks to only one basket in the last 1:51 of the game. Jefferson closed out the game making seven of its eight final free throws.
Vela said Lopez helps the Mustangs on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.
“He’s a guy who’s willing to (play) any position on the floor,” the Jefferson coach said. “He does all the utility work of playing inside or playing outside, wherever you want to put him. He’s just a basketball guy, a kid that’s willing to work hard for us. He gives us a lot of spark on the offensive side and the defensive side, also with his rebounding.”
Vela also praised point guard Matthew Martinez and wing player David Rodriguez.
“I thought Matthew (Martinez) did a good job of penetrating and creating for somebody else and also my defender David Rodriguez, he came off the bench and he did a good job of slowing down one of their best players. He got some defensive stops for us on the last two or three possessions that helped us,” Vela said.
Alvarado scored seven points, with Sean Martinez and Matthew Martinez each scoring five for the Mustangs. Munoz led Lanier with nine points with Brandon Martinez, Javontea Vera and Lares each scoring eight.
The win against Lanier (7-19, 1-7 in District 27-5A) put Jefferson (10-15, 5-3 in District 27-5A) in a three-way tie for third in District 27-5A with Sam Houston and Highlands and in the thick of the playoff race, with the second half of district games starting last Tuesday.