Pecos, seeking to win tournament for third year in a row, facing Mora

January 6, 2019

The rivalry will be renewed Saturday, but do the Mora Rangers have a chance?

For the second year in a row, the Mora Rangers and the Pecos Panthers will play for the Northern Rio Grande Tournament title in Pojoaque Valley’s Ben Luján Gymnasium at 7:30 p.m. However, can anyone give Pecos a challenge?

Since losing the Northern Rio Grande title in 2016, the Panthers have won all eight of their tournament games by an average of

43.8 points.

Over the last two tournaments, that average mushroomed to 55.

In the first two games of this year’s bracket, Pecos beat Peñasco and Dulce by an average margin of 67 points as it marches toward a three-peat.

Pecos hammered Dulce, 86-25, in the first semifinal Friday night to reach the tournament final for the fourth straight year. Its opponent will be last year’s runner-up, Mora, which beat McCurdy 63-55 in the nightcap. The last team to beat the Panthers? The Rangers, 62-59, for the 2016 title.

Mora 63, McCurdy 55

The Rangers (7-6) are 2-0 under head coach Marco Sanchez, as they overcame and early 11-5 deficit to take a 28-25 halftime lead. They padded the score to 46-35 heading into the final quarter.

The top-seeded Bobcats (8-2) rallied to within 48-45 on Ernesto Martinez’s 3-pointer with less than 4 minutes left, but Mora displayed patience in fashioning a 7-0 run that settled the game. The star was Lefonso Castillo, who hit a 3 with 3:08 left, then a breakaway layup 24 seconds later to make the score 53-45.

The Rangers closed out by hitting eight of

10 free throws.

Roderick and Kenny Martinez tied for Mora’s team-high with 14 points and Jerome Pacheco added 13.

Ubaldo Barela led McCurdy with 16 points, including eight in the final quarter, while Ernesto Martinez added 15.

McCurdy will play Dulce for third place at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Pecos 88, Dulce 25

At least it was close for a moment.

The Hawks (5-3) were within 9-2 after the first 2 minutes — a far better outcome than the 28-0 start the Panthers had against Peñasco in Thursday’s first round. The moment was short-lived as Pecos (11-2) rolled to a 34-6 lead after a quarter and 58-13 at the half.

Xavier Padilla had 15 of his 19 points in the opening half, while Omar Dominguez scored 10 of his 18 in the opening quarter. Ismael Villegas had 17.

Dulce had Seke Castleberry lead the way with seven points.

Consolation semifinals

Questa 50, Peñasco 48

If the rims in Ben Lujan Gymnasium looked dulled, it was because the Wildcats and the Panthers took the shine off of them. The two teams combined to miss 40 of 72 free-throw attempts, with Questa missing 25 out of

43 tries.

The Wildcats (2-7) overcame those misses to rally from a 31-25 deficit by outscoring the Panthers 25-17 in the fourth quarter to pull out the win. It helped that Questa went to the line

16 times, although it only hit seven of buckets, but Dominic Torres hit two to cap the win. Torres had a team-high 12 points, with six in the final quarter, and Ozzy Hernandez added 11. Jeremiah Martinez had 15 points to lead Peñasco (2-8). Questa plays Escalante for fifth place at

1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Escalante 58, Mesa Vista 34

The Lobos held the Trojans to 13 second-half points as they extended a 33-21 halftime lead to advance to the fifth place game. Escalante (5-7) benefited from hitting eight 3-pointers. Randy Ferrell hit one in each quarter as he finished with 12 points.

Anthony Ulibarri added 10 for the Lobos, as 10 players scored.

Damien Trujillo led Mesa Vista (1-8) with nine points — all of which came at the free-throw line as he was 9-for-10.

Mesa Vista and Peñasco play for seventh place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

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