Boys: Tigers place first, Jags are seventh

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While the Los Lunas boys basketball team is still looking to completely jell, the Tigers do have a tournament first-place trophy to show for their efforts.

As host team of last weekend’s Village of Los Lunas Holiday Classic, the Tigers blazed past Centennial, 72-47, in Friday’s semifinals, and held off Bosque Prep in Saturday’s championship game.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Sasha Gallegos of Los Lunas, left, tries to knock the ball away from Miles Horton of Bosque Prep in Saturday’s Village of Los Lunas Holiday Classic championship game at LLHS. The Tigers held off the Bobcats, 49-38, to win the boys title.

The Valencia High boys bounced back from a 54-45 loss to Deming on Friday to beat Aztec, 49-43, in Saturday’s seventh-place game.

Sandia Prep edged Centennial, 47-46, in the tourney’s third-place game. Deming beat Del Norte for fifth place, 52-39.

In last Thursday’s first round of the tourney, Los Lunas (6-3) held off Aztec, while the Jaguars (3-10) lost to Bosque Prep in overtime.

Both the Tigers and Valencia are idle this weekend. Los Lunas is set to play a 7 p.m. home game against Sandia Prep on Friday, and will travel to Las Cruces for a Saturday-night game against Mesilla Valley Christian.

Valencia is set to play a 3 p.m. game on Saturday at Mayfield High in Las Cruces.

Los Lunas 49, Bosque Prep 38

In Saturday’s championship game, the Class 4A Tigers started and finished sluggishly, but played well enough in spurts to get the win over the 2A Bobcats (7-3).

Los Lunas trailed 7-0 before getting more energy out of both its defense and transition offense, as the Bobcats initially forced the Tigers into a slowed-down, halfcourt game.

“We have so much speed, I feel our transition game is our strength,” said LLHS coach Travis Julian. “But to be a top-flight team, we have to execute better, offensively.”

Ben Romero had 17 points to lead the Tigers, who built a double-digit lead in the second quarter. Austin Rivera, who had a game-high 20 points, hit a pair of 3-pointers late to pull Bosque to within nine points late in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers held on.

Jacob Holland added 14 points for the Tigers.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Dominic Zamora of Valencia shoots over Aztec defenders in Saturday’s seventh-place game of the Village of Los Lunas Holiday Classic at Los Lunas High. The Jaguars broke a nine-game skid by beating Aztec, 49-43.

Julian sat most of his regular players down to re-focus before they were sent back in for the game’s final minute.

“I felt some of the guys had gotten complacent,” said Julian.

Los Lunas 72, Centennial 47

In one of Friday’s semifinals, the host Tigers raced out to an early lead, and ended up with a 35-11 edge over the Hawks (7-5) by halftime.

“I felt this was the most complete game we’ve played so far,” said Julian.

Ben Romero led the Tigers with 17 points, while Chris Sanchez added 15 and Aaron Sais had 11. The Tigers made 24 of their 28 free throws in the game, along with four 3-pointers.

Kevin Vasquez, the Hawks’ 6-foot, 6-inch freshman, had a game-high 24 points.

Valencia 49, Aztec 43

The Jaguars broke a nine-game losing streak by grabbing the lead late against the Tigers (3-5) and making enough free throws to hang on.

Valencia’s Josue Padilla banked in a short jumper with 2:54 to play that gave the Jaguars a 44-43 lead. The Jags held Aztec scoreless through the last three minutes of the contest, though the Tigers’ 1-for-8 foul shooting performance in the fourth quarter, including missing their last five, made things easier for VHS.

“We were finally able to push through, and play hard for all four quarters,” said Valencia coach Ezau Rios. “We finished the way we needed to.”

Padilla led Valencia with 20 points, while Dominic Zamora added 11. Padilla, Zamora, Quentin Wanstall and Malachi Jolley each made at least one free throw in the final minutes.

“It’s great to see Josue playing and improving in a few games in a row, after being injured and having a death in the family,” said Rios. “And Quentin really came up big when we needed him to, and his driving helped open things up for Josue.”

The Jags were 16-of-26 from the line in the game, while Aztec was 9-of-16.

Valencia trailed by as much as seven points in the second half. There were eight lead changes in the game.

Valencia played Saturday’s game without guard Chance Maciolek, who went on vacation, and without a couple of players who went to a junior varsity tournament in Española.

“We’re making consistent progress,” said Rios.

Deming 54, Valencia 45

In one of Friday’s consolation semifinals, the Jaguars were within four points of Deming in the fourth quarter before the Wildcats’ Phillip Longoria took over.

“He pretty much put the team on his back,” said Rios. “He got a few buckets in a row, and then we were down by about 10.”

Longoria had a game-high 19 points. Richard Regalado added 10 for Deming (9-3). Valencia got 11 points from Josh Baca-Torres and 10 from Gabe Urtiaga.


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