Mora, with new coach, beats Escalante
JACONA — Marco Sanchez went from a Mora fan to the head boys basketball coach of the Rangers in the span of a few hours Wednesday.
Sanchez replaced Carlos Arellano, who was fired Wednesday by Mora Interim Superintendent Carla Spaniel. Sanchez said no reason was given for the change. Sanchez was the head coach at Mora for the 2014-15 season, leading it to a 21-9 record and a Class 2A semifinal.
Despite having only one practice with the Rangers, he picked up the win Thursday after Mora beat Escalante 51-46 in the opening round of the Northern Rio Grande Tournament in Pojoaque Valley’s Ben Luján Gymnasium. Mora will play McCurdy in a semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Friday Pecos, which beat Peñasco 86-13, plays Dulce, a 53-16 winner over Questa, in the other semifinal at 6 p.m.
Sanchez said it was a whirlwind 16 hours for him, as he met with Spaniel at 2:45 p.m. to discuss the job, met the team at 3:15 p.m. then held practice at 3:30 p.m. Add to that the mixed feelings he had in replacing Arellano.
“I just felt terrible at the time. They’d just fired somebody,” Sanchez said. “Then, I got real nervous about it, but my wife [Jacqueline Sanchez, former Mora head volleyball coach] said, ‘You know what? Step up. You can do it.’ ”
It wasn’t easy, though. The score was tied at 24-all at the half, then the Lobos (4-7) outscored Mora 15-7 to take a 39-32 lead into the fourth. Escalante led 46-36 before the Rangers (6-6) scored the last 15 points to win. Sanchez said an adjustment from a 2-3 zone to a 1-3-1 trap helped speed up the Lobos and forced several turnovers.
Roderick Martinez had the go-ahead bucket to make it 48-46, Mora, and the Rangers went 3-for-6 down the stretch to seal the win.
Pecos 86, Peñasco 13
The outcome was settled when the Panthers (10-2) scored the first 28 points and led 57-8 at the half. The Pecos posts dominated the opening half, as Xavier Padilla and Ismael Villegas each had 10 points in the opening quarter. Villegas finished with 16 points, while Padilla had 14. Juan Varela had 14 for the Panthers, and Omar Dominguez had 12.
Peñasco (2-7) had Dominic Lopez lead the team with five points.
Dulce 53, Questa 16
The Hawks (5-2) wasted no time with the Wildcats, holding Questa to just two points in the opening quarter and opening a 35-10 halftime lead. Tyrese Redwine had nine of his 12 points to lead Dulce, while Ross Julian added nine. Dominic Torres led Questa (1-7) with eight points.
McCurdy 73, Mesa Vista 41
The Bobcats (8-1) held the Trojans to just 14 second-half points to pull away and advance to a semifinal battle with the Rangers. McCurdy outscored Mesa Vista 23-6 in the third quarter to pad its lead to 56-33. Ubaldo Barela paced the run with 13 points, as he finished with 25 on the night. Guard Raul Arroyo scored 11 of his 16 points in the first half as the Bobcats only held a 33-27 lead at the break. Damian Trujillo kept the Trojans (1-7) in the game with 10 points in the opening half, but he only scored three free throws the rest of the way. Augie Campos added nine.
Peñasco 62, Escalante 31
The Lady Panthers (8-2) struggled to get going for a half, and only led 25-11 at the break, but they exploded for 38 points in the second half to cruise to a semifinal matchup against Dulce at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
Adrianna Tafoya scored 10 of her 16 points in the second half to help kick-start Peñasco’s offense, while Carly Gonzales dropped 14 of her team-high 23 points in the same span. Bianca Contreras added 10. Aubrie Hinds and Kalese Torrez led the Lady Lobos (0-7) with nine points.
Pecos 49, Mesa Vista 28
The Lady Panthers did not handle the Lady Trojans with ease like they did in a 70-22 win in the only round played at the St. Michael’s Lady Horsemen Christmas Tournament. They were lackadaisical handling the ball, committing 24 turnovers that allowed Mesa Vista to hang around for a quarter. It was only 13-5 by that point, but a matching 13-5 scoring run in the second gave Pecos (8-2) a 26-10 lead that it nursed to a semifinal appearance against Mora at 3 p.m.
Cassie Muller led Pecos with 17 points, while Faith Flores had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Alyssa Suazo led Mesa Vista (2-4) with six points.
Mora 36, Questa 28
The Rangerettes (6-3) outscored the Lady Wildcats 13-9 in the fourth quarter to extend a 23-19 lead to advance to the semifinals. Dennika Bustos hit four 3-pointers and had 14 points to lead Mora, while Marisol Pacheco scored six of her 10 points in the fourth. Questa (2-6) was led by Kiana Passino, who had all 10 of her points in the second half.
Dulce 45, McCurdy 28
The Lady Hawks (6-4) only led 22-17 at the half, but held the Lady Bobcats (5-6) to just 11 points the rest of the way to advance to a semifinal matchup against Peñasco. Brooke Vigil scored 10 of her 16 points in the second half, and Brannon Vigil added 13 with three 3s in the mix. Erika Loera paced McCurdy with 12 points.