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Bernalillo’s pace wears down Pojoaque; Spartans win title, 71-55

December 23, 2018

JACONA — The Bernalillo Spartans were in search of a spark.

Leave it to a senior to provide it.

Reyes Herrera can be a one-man scoring show, and the Spartans wing did just that in the second half of the boys basketball championship game of the Ben Luján Tournament on Saturday night. He scored 17 of his

28 points after the break and helped reignite Bernalillo’s intensity level to produce a 71-55 win over host Pojoaque Valley in Ben Luján Gymnasium.

It didn’t appear the Spartans needed Herrera to come to the rescue. But when the Elks reeled off 13 straight points in the second quarter to take a 26-25 lead on Dante Ortiz’s bucket in the paint with 1:43 left, they looked sluggish.

“Playing three games over three days is always tough,” Bernalillo head coach Terry Darnell said. “Some guys, they lose focus, and I think that’s what happened. We got off to a decent start, but then we let them catch up and get into their rhythm.”

Herrera found his focus in the second half when he drained a 25-foot 3-pointer with 6:55 left in third quarter. It gave Bernalillo a 30-29 lead. It was the second of five straight 3-pointers both teams hit, and when Marcos Vigil hit the last one at the 6 minute mark, Pojoaque held a 35-33 lead.

Elks head coach Thomas Vigil was happy to see his team matching Bernalillo shot for shot, but he worried how long it would last.

“It’s tough to keep up with that pace,” Vigil said. “I think we started off 3-for-3 in the third. It wasn’t that we were bad early in the third quarter, it was that they were able to make more plays than we did.”

Herrera hit a pair of free throws that sparked a 9-0 run. That gave the Spartans a 42-35 lead after Aron Neely hit a 3 with 3:42 left.

“He’s been our catalyst all year,” Darnell said. “Whatever he does, we kinda follow.”

When Pojoaque crept to within 44-39 on Sean Aragon’s floater at 1:43 of the third, Herrera took the lead again by scoring nine straight points. His run ended after he hit a falling 3 with 7:12 left in the game for a 53-41 lead.

Third place

Santa Fe Indian School 63,

Albuquerque Menaul 48

The Braves only led 42-39 heading into the fourth quarter, but outscored the Panthers 21-9 to take third place in the tournament. James Bridges came alive in the quarter, with eight of his 20 points. Jaden Aguino carried SFIS through the first three quarters with 21 of his game-high 23 points. That included eight in each of the first two quarters as the Braves (3-3) built leads of 16-8 after a quarter and 32-24 at the half.

Menaul, though, outscored SFIS 15-10 in the third quarter, as Derek Pyle had six points and Dylan Lerch added five. Pyle had 10 points overall, while Carlos Fuentes led the Panthers (3-7) with 12.

Fifth place

Escalante 53, Monte del Sol 25

The Lobos held the Dragons to just two free throws in the fourth quarter, outscoring them 19-2 to secure fifth place. Scoring was hard to come by for Monte del Sol, which never broke double figures in any quarter.

Escalante (4-3) led 26-14 at the half but the Dragons were within 34-23 entering the fourth. Monte del Sol only managed a free throw each from Peter Lujan and Santi Archuleta in the final quarter. Cortez Martinez dominated the final 8 minutes, scoring 10 of his 18 points. Tristan Coriz added 10 points overall.

Alec Lopez had six points to lead the Dragons (5-4), and Archuleta had five.

Seventh place

Peñasco 51, Mesa Vista 50

Once again, the Trojans came close to a win, but Danny Esquibel’s bucket in the last 5 seconds gave the Panthers (2-6) seventh place. They were the last two points in a 17-point performance, with 12 coming in the opening quarter as Peñasco took a 22-11 lead.

The Trojans responded with 18 points in the second, and Damian Trujillo had 10 of them to cut the margin to 30-29 at the half. Mesa Vista tied the game at 42-all heading into the fourth before getting outscored 9-8.

Trujillo finished with a game-high 26 points, and was the lone double-digit scorer for the Trojans (1-5). Elijah Lucero had 13 in a supporting role for Peñasco.

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