Eagle boys hoops wins opener

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There hasn’t been a truly complete lineup on the floor for the 2012-13 Belen High boys basketball team yet this year.

Jonathan Miller-El Defensor Chieftain: Thomas Cordova of Belen High, left, goes up for a layup attempt in Saturday’s season opener. The Eagle boys rolled to an 82-42 win over Socorro and are set to play at Rio Grande at 7 p.m. Thursday.

However, the one that took the court for Saturday’s season opener performed well in a number of areas. The Class 4A Eagles rolled to an 82-42 win over 3A Socorro.

“We were a little flat at times,” said Belen’s second-year coach, Patrick Mondragon. “We don’t have the depth that we hope to have later on.”

The Eagles (1-0 after Saturday) were set to host 5A Atrisco Heritage, which reached the state semifinals as a 4A team last year, on Tuesday in a game set for after News-Bulletin press time. Belen is scheduled to face another 5A team when it travels to Rio Grande for a 7 p.m. game on Thursday.

The win over Socorro was not quite as easy as the final score might indicate. The Eagles did zoom out to 23-6 lead by the end of the first quarter, but the Warriors (2-0) always seem to play Belen tough, and Saturday’s game was no exception.

The Warriors found more ways to the basket in the second period, closing the gap with a 25-point quarter. Belen led 41-31 at the half.

However, the taller, more-experienced Eagles pulled away in the second half, when they outscored the Warriors 41-27. Dontae Vigil had 18 points to lead the Eagles, while Ray Montoya added 15, Colton Lewis had 13, and Thomas Cordova had 11.

Socorro’s Ethan Smith had 16 points. The Warriors’ Michael Padilla had 10 points.

The Warriors lost one of their projected top scorers for the season to a football injury, and were missing another main starter Saturday.

In terms of missing players, Belen was without at least two football players Saturday. Zach Martin and Nick Kurtz will sit until next Tuesday’s home game against Los Alamos, per a Belen High rule that requires fall-sport athletes to wait at least seven calendar days between the end of one season and the first competition in another season’s sport.

Vigil and Lewis will not play Thursday, as both were suspended from school this week. BHS athletics coordinator Rodney Wright said Lewis will return from suspension this week and Vigil will be back next week, though he declined to discuss the reason they were disciplined.

Wright also clarified the seven-day policy, stating it did not apply to agreements between coaches that allow athletes to do off-season workouts while participating in another sport. Lewis was attending open-gym basketball workouts in the fall while running cross country, with the permission of those team’s coaches. Wright said he will re-evaluate both policies when reviewing the school’s athletic handbook later this year.

After Tuesday’s home game against Los Alamos, the Eagle boys play at Socorro on Wednesday, Dec. 12.

Socorro notwithstanding, Mondragon said having a somewhat beefed-up schedule will help prepare his team for district.

“We have a lot of areas to improve in,” said Mondragon. “But our schedule is really going to help us get better.”


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