Turnovers hurt Jaguar boys in close loss at Grants

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Fighting hard in a road game, only to lose, was not what the Valencia High boys basketball team had in mind Tuesday.

News-Bulletin file photo: Senior Guard Gabe Urtiaga of Valencia is shown here beating a Miyamura guard off the dribble in last weekend’s game. The Jags went 0-for-6 in 3-point shooting in Tuesday’s road loss. The Jaguars are set to play at Los Lunas High at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 7.

However, if the young Jaguar lineup can gain experience and do a few more things well, VHS might start getting those hard-earned road wins. The Jags turned the ball over on their final six possessions of Tuesday’s 43-37 loss at Grants.

The defeat dropped Valencia’s record to 5-14 overall, 1-2 in District 6-4A. The Jags were set to host Belen on Friday after News-Bulletin press time.

“The kids are seeing that one-tenth of a second makes a huge difference,” said Valencia coach Ezau Rios. “Our bigs — Josue Padilla, Garrett Gibson, Josh Baca — all played well. But our guards struggled.”

The Pirates (7-11, 2-1) and Jags were tied at 37-37 with about four minutes left in Tuesday’s game. But Grants got a shot from the field to fall, and later added four free throws to hand the Jags the loss.

“We couldn’t finish the plays we needed,” said Rios.

Padilla led the Jaguars with 10 points, while Garrett Gibson had eight. Quentin Wanstall, still recovering from an ankle sprain suffered in the Jan. 19 loss to Santa Fe High, played about 16 minutes, according to Rios, and had four points.

Neither team could build much of a lead. The game was tied 22-22 at the half, and the Pirates led 34-31 after three quarters.

Valencia is now 0-5 all-time when playing the Pirates in Grants.

Next up for the Jags is one of their biggest challenges of all. They play at Los Lunas at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 7.

“Our bigs and our guards both need to have big games that night,” said Rios.


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