Eagles fly high against Miyamura; grounded at Socorro

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For every step forward the Belen boys basketball team takes, it stumbles one step backward.

Such was the case this weekend as the Eagles got a convincing 66-46 home District 6-4A win Friday over Miyamura and followed it with a disappointing 60-48 loss at Socorro on Saturday.

With a 3-5 district record, the Eagles (8-14 overall) have two chances to redeem their season this week when they host Valencia on Thursday and visit Grants on Saturday. Both games are set for 7 p.m. starts.

For Belen coach Pat Mondragon, it is not too late for the Eagles to develop some consistent effort and play.

"If we take off Valencia, then we can talk about the good things that can come with a win at Grants," said Mondragon, noting that the Eagles could still finish as high as third in the district, if they win out. "We have had a tendency to overlook people in the past and that has really hurt us."

Belen had to play both games without Dontae Vigil, who was suspended from school, and Nick Kurtz, who is nursing an ankle injury.

"We have a lot of people in and out of the lineup," said Mondragon, "so now maybe we can make a little run."

The Eagles came out in front of the home crowd on Friday night and played like the team most expected at the beginning of the season.

Ray Montoya lifted a one-handed shot in the middle of the lane that fell and Colton Lewis followed with a 3-pointer from the head of the key. Belen had raced out to a 16-4 lead.

Lewis hit a second trey early in the second quarter to post a 21-9 lead over the Patriots.

Seconds later, Belen got a fast-break bucket on a great feed from Zach Martin to Montoya in the middle of the lane.

Belen built on that energy to run out to a 31-11 lead when Martin hit a layup and was fouled. The senior post hit the free shot for the 20-point lead.

Montoya and Antonio Chavez hit 3-pointers before the end of the half and the Eagles led 37-13 at the break.

"We have been talking a lot about team work and playing well together," said Mondragon. "I think some of that came out (against Miyamura)."

Martin led the effort with 17 points, but the Belen coach credited the senior with some other leadership, as well.

"I think that Zach is really doing that. He did a good job of playing with other people," said Mondragon. "When he is surrounded by two or three guys, he is looking for someone to pass to."

Montoya, with 16 points; Lewis, 14 points; and Chavez, eight points; had two 3-pointers each.

It was not the same on Saturday at Socorro.

Colton Lewis, with four 3-pointers and 16 points, and Zach Martin, with 26 points, scored all but six of Belen's 48 points put up in a lethargic performance.

"I don't know what it is, but it seems to be the way our season has gone. We just didn't have much energy at all," said a perplexed Mondragon. "I don't know if we were tired from the night before or what."

Belen trailed 30-25 at the half and still was within reach at the end of the third quarter, 44-37, but couldn't get the win. The Eagles beat the Warriors 82-42 at BHS on Dec. 1.

Socorro was led by Michael Padilla with 20 points, Matthew Jojola with 15, Ethan Smith scored 12 and Adam Paz notched 10 points.


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