Eagle boys struggle early, late in 50-32 loss at Santa Teresa

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When the Belen High boys basketball team puts four solid quarters together, the Eagles can play with many New Mexico teams.

The Eagles, whose 50-32 loss at Santa Teresa on Saturday was their seventh consecutive road game, might be able to play more consistently at home. Their schedule finally has them on their home court in the weeks ahead.

The Eagles were set to host West Mesa on Tuesday after News-Bulletin press time. Belen is set to play at Bernalillo at 7 p.m. Thursday before taking a break to prepare for their Thursday, Jan. 24, District 6-4A opener, when the Eagles host county rival Los Lunas.

"I think all those road trips finally ended up taking their toll," said Belen coach Patrick Mondragon. "But in the end, this will make us a better team."

The Eagles trailed the defending 4A state champion Desert Warriors 19-9 after one quarter, and 29-18 at the half. Down 40-27 at the end of the third quarter, the Eagles mustered only four points in the final quarter.

Only four players scored for Belen, led by Zach Martin's 16 points. Nick Kurtz had nine points, including the Eagles' only two 3-pointers.

"They were a lot more disciplined than we were," said Mondragon. "We didn't shoot very well at Santa Teresa, and our perimeter shots weren't falling, especially in the fourth quarter. We had a slow start to the game, too."

Mondragon said it was a very physical contest, and the officials let the teams play. There were only 13 fouls called on the Eagles, and only 11 against the Desert Warriors. Belen only shot four free throws in the game, making one.

"There weren't that many fouls being called," said Mondragon. "We didn't adjust to that soon enough."

Santa Teresa only had five players score, but it was effective. Manny Zermeno had 18 points, with Mario Ramirez adding 15.

Bernalillo will be a tough non-district test for the Eagles. The Spartans won nine of their first 14 games, including victories over Los Lunas and Valencia.

"We need to execute better offensively," said Mondragon. "And we need to work on our man-to-man defense."


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