Jaguars keep it close; fall to Bengals

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They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can't kill the beast.

The Valencia High boys basketball team could use that line from the song "Hotel California" to explain how they are close to being very competitive with Class 4A's top teams. Unfortunately, the Jaguars' 54-27 home loss to Gallup on Saturday left them with a 5-17 overall record, and 1-6 in District 6-4A.

Valencia was set to play at Miyamura in Gallup on Tuesday after News-Bulletin press time. The Jaguars are set to host Grants at 7 p.m. Friday.

"We were right where we wanted to be," said Valencia coach Ezau Rios, whose team was only down 28-20 late in the third quarter of Saturday's game. "We got behind early, but we were hoping to knock off two or four points of their lead each quarter. We didn't execute well later on, and we didn't take the first available shot we were getting."

Valencia was without senior post Josue Padilla, who was recovering from a sprained ankle suffered late in last week's loss at Los Lunas.

Plus, the Jags missed valuable starters for critical stretches of the third quarter Saturday. Quentin Wanstall left for a few minutes with an ankle injury, though he later returned, and post Josh Baca had to sit after picking up his fourth foul.

Gallup, which scored 26 of the game's last 33 points, was led by 12 points apiece from Lionel Kinsel and Darren Spencer. The Bengals didn't shoot particularly well from outside, making only three 3-pointers, but were able to get to the rim and mount fast breaks.

Gallup (13-8, 4-2) led 15-4 early in the second quarter and 24-12 at the half before Valencia rallied in front of a small home crowd. Baca led the Jags with nine points; VHS ran a patient, methodical offense, even when behind, and only made 10 shots from the field in the game.

"At least some of our youngest guys got some varsity minutes," said Rios.


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