Horsemen pull out tough win over Los Alamos, 52-45
Los Alamos had a offensive tackle in a forward’s uniform Tuesday night.
The St. Michael’s Horsemen had to counter with a pair of quarterbacks and a wide receiver.
The prep football season is over, but there was definitely a pigskin flavor in Perez-Shelley Gymnasium for the season opener for the Horsemen. Los Alamos used its size and physicality to turn the nondistrict boys basketball game into a grinder. However, the name of the game is to put the ball in the basket, and that’s where the Hilltoppers struggled for much of the second half.
That was the advantage St. Michael’s seized upon to pull out a 52-45 win. Thanks to 12 points from Dominic Morgan, seven more from Lucas Coriz (also known as the quarterback) plus four second-quarter points from Hayden Lee (the receiver), they used their scoring ability plus their own brand of physicality to help offset Los Alamos’ brawny style.
Not that it was strictly up to them to match up with the Hilltoppers.
“We worked hard on our strength as a team,”
St. Michael’s head coach David Rodriguez said. “We do have three football players who are pretty strong, and Coriz is pretty green. He did some good things and he made some mistakes, but I feel like we have enough people to where we can get the job done.”
Still, it was the Horsemen football players who made things happen during a stretch that started late in the first half and continued well into the fourth quarter. During that 12-minute, 26-second stretch, the trio combined for 15 points, seven rebounds, an assists plus a pair of steals.
Morgan scored seven points in that stretch, as well as a well-placed assist to Connor Glatz for a layup with 2:55 left in the second quarter.
That gave St. Michael’s a 23-19 lead and started that stretch run. When Morgan completed a three-point play off a banked a 10-footer with 6:29 left in the fourth, the Horsemen were up 40-34.
“It was important for us to match what they could do in the paint,” Coriz said. “We’re just as strong as they are. It just came back to us as a team, and we started clicking.”
That the Horsemen worked hard in the paint was crucial, because their perimeter shooting was off target. St. Michael’s made just three 3-pointers, as senior wing Jevon Montoya struggled with a seven-point night on a pair of 3s.
The Horsemen also struggled to take care of the ball, as Los Alamos forced 17 turnovers.
Six came in the fourth quarter to offset the Hilltoppers’ misfiring offense (16 for 49 from the field) and keep them in the game. When Gavin Campos stole the ball in the backcourt and scored on a layup with 3:29 left, Los Alamos (0-3) was within 44-42.
“We gotta take care of the ball, because everyone wants to win by 20, but there’s another team out there,” Rodriguez said. “They’re trying to get some things done. They know what we’re trying to do and they’re trying to combat that.”
It was a 46-44 Horsemen lead heading into the final minute when the home team finally took care of the ball.
In breaking the Hilltoppers’ trap, Glatz found the opening in the low block and he finished with a layup to make the score 48-44 with 41 seconds left.
The next possession was almost a carbon copy as he was again left alone in the low block and scored an easy layup for a 50-45 lead with 24 seconds left. Glatz was an unsung hero with eight points to ease the absence of senior post Thomas Wood, who was in foul trouble.
St. Michael’s has a day off to prepare for Roswell in the opening round of the Bobby Rodriguez Capital City Tournament on Thursday morning. Rodriguez said it’s a tournament in which he expects his Class 3A Horsemen to run into nothing but 5A schools as it will face either Alamogordo or Capital on Friday.
Host school Santa Fe High is expected to make it through the other side of the bracket.
“If you get a chance to play Roswell, it’s not going to hurt your computer ranking,” Rodriguez said, alluding to the MaxPreps.com Freeman rankings the New Mexico Activities Association uses to select and seed teams for the state tournament. “It could help it, but it’s not going to hurt it.”