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Mora boys, Pecos girls claim titles

January 7, 2019

Conventional wisdom said teams shouldn’t run with the Pecos Panthers.

The Mora Rangers did that in the fourth quarter in the Northern Rio Grande Tournament boys basketball championship game Saturday night.

Facing a Pecos team that beat its first two opponents in the tournament by an average of 67 points, the Rangers hung with the Panthers for three quarters.

Mora outscored Pecos 28-25 in the fourth quarter to pull out a 73-67 win in Ben Luján Gymnasium.

Mora (8-6) was the first team to beat Pecos, the two-time defending tournament champion, since the 2016 final — when the Rangers won 62-59.

Marco Sanchez, Mora’s head coach for just four days after Carlos Arellano was fired Wednesday, was still wrapping his head around what happened to him and the team.

“It’s been a ride,” Sanchez said. “My head’s in the clouds, but these guys deserve it.”

Pecos used huge first quarters to build insurmountable leads in wins over Peñasco and Dulce in the first two days of the tournament, but Mora was within 15-14 at the buzzer. The Rangers outscored the Panthers 16-11 in the second quarter as they avoided moving the ball into the corners, where Pecos defenders could trap them and steal the ball to take a 30-26 lead.

It was 45-42 after three, and Sanchez decided it was time to let his team run.

“I kinda thought [Pecos’] bigs were a little tired,” Sanchez said. “So I told them, ‘Hey, once you beat the first and second guy, let’s go,’ and we were getting layups.”

Carlos Muller Jr. led Mora with 23 points on the strength of five 3-pointers, and Jerome Pacheco added 13.

Xavier Padilla had 18 points for the Panthers (12-3), and Ismael Villegas added 16.

Third place

McCurdy 69, Dulce 60

The Bobcats outscored the Hawks 20-14 in the fourth quarter to pad a 49-46 lead and take third place in the tournament.

Kemmer Croff and Ernesto Martinez picked the perfect time to break their scoreless drought as they both collected five points each in the fourth quarter to help McCurdy (9-2) hold on. Ubaldo Barela led the Bobcats with

22 points and Andres Martinez added 11.

Deshawn Gonzales had 13 points to lead the Hawks.

Fifth place

Escalante 68, Questa 27

The Lobos (6-7) left no doubt in the consolation championship game, holding the Wildcats to just nine first-half points and building a 54-9 lead at the break.

Dakotah Gonzales scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half for Escalante, and Anthony Ulibarri added 12 as 11 Lobos registered points on the day.

Miguel Romero led Questa (2-9) with seven points.

Seventh place

Mesa Vista 66, Peñasco 33

The Trojans went to Damian Trujillo early.

They went to him often throughout their seventh-place game win over the Panthers in the morning game.

Trujillo had 33 points that were spread almost evenly by half — he had 17 points at the break as Mesa Vista built a 30-7 lead.

Julian Quintana hit four 3-pointers in support of Trujillo and finished with 18 points. Danny Esquibel led the Panthers with eight points.

GIRLS

Championship

Pecos 57, Peñasco 54

Britney Martinez and Alexis Gonzales combined for 10 points in the fourth quarter, leading Pecos (10-2) to the title.

Martinez finished with 13 points, as did Trinity Herrera. Cassie Muller had seven points, all in the first quarter. Gonzales had nine points with all five of her fourth quarter points coming at the free throw line.

Free throws dominated this one as the teams combined for 72 attempts. Pecos was 23-for-37 while Peñasco was 20-for-35.

Carly Gonzales had 21 for Peñasco, which drops to 9-3 with the loss.

Third place

Dulce 46, Mora 24

The Lady Hawks were in control the entire way, opening a 14-point lead at halftime and only extending it the rest of the way.

Brooke Vigil had a game-high 22 points for Dulce, scoring at least four points in every quarter.

Mora got eight points from Shanay Casados, but scoring came at a premium the entire game. The Rangerettes were held to six or fewer points in each of the final three quarters.

Fifth place

McCurdy 41, Questa 39

It’s not often a team gets shut out in one quarter and still nearly pulls off the win, but that’s exactly what happened to the Lady Wildcats.

Down 13-0 after getting pounded in the first eight minutes, Questa rallied for 17 in the second quarter and 22 in the second half only to fall just short.

Anastacia Gonzales, Kiana Passino and Annaliese Rivera each finished with seven points for the Lady Wildcats while McCurdy was led by 12 from Angie Arroyo and 17 from Jayme Bustos.

Seventh place

Escalante 46, Mesa Vista 39

Kalese Torres dropped in a game-high 22 to lead the Lady Lobos past the Lady Trojans. Mesa Vista got a team-high 10 from Amarissa Quintana in the loss.

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