Top-ranked Valley Vikes hand Jags their first loss

........................................................................................................................................................................................

The Valencia boys basketball team found out first hand why Albuquerque Valley are currently rated the top team in Class 5A on Tuesday night.

The Vikings jumped on the host Jaguars early and never let up, handing Valencia it's first loss of the year, with a 65-42 set back.

"We want tests like this early to see where we're at," said Jaguar coach Hamilton Doyle. "Tonight exposed a lot of things. I think our kids were ready to play. We just didn't execute."

Junior point guard Quentin Wanstall led the Jags with 10 points while shooting 4-of-6 from the free throw line. Seniors Josh Baca and Garrett Gibson each added eight points in the loss.

"Quentin had a great night, he handled the ball pretty well," Doyle said. "But anytime your guards are your leading scorers then you know you're going to have a long night. But (Valley is) the number one team in 5A for a reason."

Valley (4-0) took a 15-5 lead in the first quarter but the Jags kept it close to trail 26-19 at halftime.

The Vikings opened the third quarter with three consecutive 3-pointers to take a 34-21 lead and only accelerated the pace of the game from there.

Valencia (2-1) opened the season with a 62-44 win over Hot Springs at home on Nov. 26, then traveled to Socorro and defeated the Warriors 83-53 on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

The Jags took early leads in both games and held substantial leads at halftime — 37-31 against the Tigers and 44-30 against the Warriors.

Senior Jordan Baca led all scorers in the Hot Springs game with 14 points. Wanstall added 12 while Josh Baca and senior Daniel Silva each added 11 points and 10 points, respectively.

Against Socorro, Jordan Baca again scored 14. The Jags were paced by Josh Baca's 21 points. Gibson added 18 in the win.

"In those two games we didn't get challenged," said Doyle. "I was looking forward to (playing Valley) tonight. I told the boys 'This is going to expose what we need to work on.' Our kids are down but they're resilient."

Valencia gets a chance to rebound at the Española Valley Invitational this weekend. The Jags open against Pueblo (Colo.) West Thursday and play Alamosa (Colo.) Friday.