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Bernalillo, Pojoaque face off for title

December 22, 2018

The semifinal games in the boys bracket of the Ben Luján Tournament on Friday came down to a battle of attrition. Bernalillo and Pojoaque Valley were able to outlast their opponents to reach Saturday’s final.

Bernalillo steadily pulled away from Santa Fe Indian School for a 75-55 win in the opening semifinal in Ben Lujan Gymnasium, while the host Elks battled back from a 23-22 halftime deficit to beat Albuquerque Menaul 57-45. It is a rematch of last year’s championship, which the Spartans won handily, 74-46, on their way to the Class 4A runner-up trophy in March.

The Braves will take on the Panthers in the third-place game at 3 p.m., while the championship is set for 6 p.m.

Pojoaque Valley 57, Abq. Menaul 45

It’s only December, but the Elks (5-6) are one win away from matching their win total from the 2017-18 season.

Pojoaque took control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring the Panthers 19-9 to take a 41-32 lead into the fourth quarter. The pair of Jalen Lujan and Dante Ortiz paced the turnaround, as Ortiz had seven of his game-high 20 points in the third and Lujan had six of his 12. The Elks took care of business at the free-throw line, hitting eight of nine. Sean Aragon was 3-for-3 and scored all seven of his points in the final quarter.

Dereck Pyle led Menaul (3-6) with 17 points, scoring 11 came the second half. Carlos Fuentes had 10 of his 16 after the break as the two combined for all but two of the Panthers’ points in the second half.

Bernalillo 75, Santa Fe Indian School 55

The Braves tried to run with the Spartans, but could not muster enough offense in the second half as Bernalillo outscored them 42-29 to advance to their second straight Ben Luján Tournament championship game.

SFIS (2-4) crept to within 29-26 on a James Bridges putback late in the first half, but Spartans senior guard Reyes Herrera drained a 3-pointer in the final seconds for a 32-26 lead. It was one of 12 threes Bernalillo hit.

The Spartans (7-1) outscored the Braves 17-11 in the third quarter to take a 49-37 lead. Herrera scored eight of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter to secure the win. Fernando Villegas and Aron Neely each had 10 points for the Spartans.

Virgil Valencia led SFIS with 16 points, while Bridges added 11.

Consolation semifinal

Monte del Sol 60, Mesa Vista 58, 4OT

The Dragons endured four overtimes — two of which went scoreless — before outscoring the Trojans 6-4 in the fourth extra period to move to the fifth place game against Escalante.

The Trojans needed a 19-11 run in the fourth quarter to erase a 38-30 third-quarter deficit. The first and third overtimes were scoreless, and Santi Archuleta hit four straight free throws in the fourth overtime to help secure the win for Monte del Sol (5-3). They were the last of his 27 points. Peter Lujan had four of his 14 points in the second overtime, and Isaiah had all 10 of his points in the first half.

Damian Trujillo had a game-high 29 points to pace Mesa Vista (1-5), with 12 coming in the fourth quarter, and Julian Quintana scored 13.

Escalante 74, Peñasco 45

The Lobos only held a 27-20 lead at the half before erupting for 47 second-half points to rout the Panthers and move into the consolation championship game.

Cortez Martinez, Escalante’s senior guard, had seven of his 14 points in the quarter. The Lobos (3-5) went to the free-throw line 14 times, but made only seven points. A.J. Blea did the heavy lifting in the first half for the Lobos, then scored 12 of his 20 points in the second quarter as they expanded upon a 12-10 first-quarter advantage.

Elijah Lucero led the Panthers (1-6) with 16 points, and Danny Esquibel added 11.

Peñasco takes on Mesa Vista for seventh place at 9 a.m. Saturday.

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