Jaguar boys’ early-season showdown goes Capital’s way

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It was expected to be a tough test for No. 6 ranked Valencia in their home opener to the 2011-12 boys basketball season. After all the No. 3 Capital Jaguars were coming off a second-place finish in their own Al Amendariz tourney, losing a heartbreaker to Bel Air of El Paso, Texas.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Shane Lewis looks past Capital’s Michael Valencia in Tuesday’s game. The Jaguars lost to Capital, 59-51, and are set to play three games next week, including a 7 p.m. contest Tuesday at Moriarty.

While the contest was everything it was billed to be for most of the night, two periods of scoring lapses did in Valencia, 59-51. The Jaguars (2-2) now have a week of practice, something they did not get over their first four games, to work on correcting those times when the scoring is just not coming their way.

Coach Dominick Romero noted that with Monday’s snow day, the team has had three games over the weekend tournament in Santa Fe and Tuesday’s showdown with Capital without a practice in between.

The schedule picks up again next week as the Jags visit Moriarty on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. and play at Bernalillo on Friday and host Del Norte on Saturday.

Romero said, “We have three games. It is much-needed. We basically had four games in a row without any practice time. We need to take advantage of this week off and just work on a few things.”

Valencia took a 29-27 lead into the break in a mostly well-played first half, but the Jags left their scoring punch in the locker room at the half.

Captial (3-1) went on a 8-0 run to take a 35-29 lead on a bucket by Christina Martinez slicing in the lane between two Jaguar defenders and laying the ball up softly off the glass.

It took Valencia 4:10 into the second half before coming up with a bucket.

Martinez went back to work for Capital, hitting a 3-pointer to extend the lead back out to eight, 40-32.

Of the critical lapse in the third quarter, Romero said, “I appreciate the ‘never quit’ in my guys. There have been a couple of losses now where we have dug ourselves big holes. This particular time, we did that in the third quarter. It was the difference in the game. We need to piece together four steady quarters.”

He added, “You can’t do that against a team as good as Capital.”

Ryan Vigil started the scoring in the fourth quarter with a trey to give Capital a 43-32 edge.

But the host Jags were not done. Spurred by the inside play of Noah Brown, who was seeing his first action of the basketball season coming off a stellar football campaign, the Jags climbed back to within 49-46 with just 1:20 left in the game. Brown had six points during the run on a pair of three-point plays.

During the Valencia run, Romero picked up a technical foul at a critical point of the game. Asking for an explanation on a call from Valencia’s previous possession, Romero was whistled just after Capital had turned the ball over on an offensive foul at the other end.

Where Valencia would have had the ball down by six, Vigil hit one of the technical free throws and then Capital hit two more free throws to put the lead back up to 46-37.

Of the close calls, Romero said, “There were a couple of critical possessions. We had a chance to win it within those critical possessions. It was a great comeback for us.”

Valencia was led in scoring by Santiago Cordova with 15 and Brown with 10 points. Capital was led by Martinez with 23 points. The visiting Jaguars hit 12-of -14 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

 


-- Email the author at mstearns@news-bulletin.com.