New Year’s Dazzle

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Valencia and Belen both posted tough home wins over the weekend, while Los Lunas split a pair of road games.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: VALENCIA GUARD D.J. Heybourne (3) is fouled while driving to the basket during the Jaguars’ 57-47 win over Mayfield Saturday afternoon.

Despite the loss to Class 5A No. 2 Cleveland, the Tigers held on to the No. 2 ranking in this week’s MaxPreps Boys Class 4A rankings. Belen moved up to No. 13, while Valencia held steady at No. 17.

Jaguars juke Trojans for win

In the huddle before the fourth quarter against Las Cruces Mayfield, Valencia coach Hamilton Doyle had a simple message for his team.

“We can close this out,” Doyle said firmly. “This ain’t Sandia Prep.”

The Jags did what they had been unable to do a week before against the Sundevils, going on a 15-5 run that transformed a 33-33 tie late in the third quarter into a 48-38 lead that finished as a 57-47 win for the Jags.

“With Prep we were kind of tied and didn’t come together as a team,” said senior guard Quentin Wanstall. “Today, we were fresh and worked hard to win the game.”

Leading 26-21 at halftime thanks to a solid defensive effort, Valencia (5-7) was ambushed by Mayfield’s pressure in the third quarter as the Trojans went on a 13-8 run to tie the game.

But the Jags rebounded with their run, capped by a pair of 3-pointers by Wanstall.

“We just said let’s keep our cool and do what we do in practice,” Wanstall said of the team’s efforts to overcome Mayfield’s pressure defense.

Wanstall and Jordan Baca each finished with 13 points and a trio of 3-pointers each to pace the Jags. Post Josh Baca added 11 points.

Valencia defeated Bernalillo 83-79 in quadruple overtime Tuesday and hosts Deming Friday before traveling to Las Cruces to play future district foe Centennial Saturday.

Los Lunas falls at Cleveland, pops Prep

The Tigers close game against Cleveland in Rio Rancho last Thursday came down to a five-point turn in the fourth quarter, resulting in a 68-59 loss to the No. 2 Storm in Rio Rancho. But Los Lunas (7-3) rebounded well, scoring a double-digit win at Sandia Prep Saturday night.

Against the Storm, the Tigers seemingly took a 1-point lead on a 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter. But coach Travis Julian said the shot was called off due to a foul under the basket. Cleveland went down and hit two free throws to go up three points and eventually, with the help of a pair of consecutive turnovers by LLHS, took the game over from there.

Julian said the game officials admitted that the foul call was incorrect after the game, but admitted his team and staff did not handle the situation well in the moment.

“I don’t want to look for excuses,” Julian said. “We didn’t respond well, myself included. But we showed something, being in it with them.”

Chris Sanchez led all scorers with 26 points and Jacob Holland added 17 points in the loss.

Against Sandia Prep, LLHS took an 18-13 first quarter lead. But foul trouble put starters Sanchez, Holland and Jalen Chavez as well as top reserve Randy Moore all on the bench for much of the second quarter.

The Sundevils took advantage to keep the lead manageable, trailing 31-26 at halftime and 39-35 after the third quarter before the Tigers exploded for 25 fourth-quarter points to pull away.

Jacob Holland led all scorers with 22 points, Chad Murphy added 14 points and Chris Sanchez finished with 10 points.

“Chad (Murphy) really carried us in terms scoring first half and Jacob had a great third and fourth quarter,” said Julian. “Ideally, we wanted to wins but getting a split on the road was good.”

Los Lunas is on the road again this week, playing at the Albuquerque Academy tonight then at Los Alamos Saturday before returning home Tuesday to play Piedra Vista.

Eagles outlast Demons at home

Host Belen held off a fourth-quarter charge by Santa Fe Friday night to grab a hotly-contested 53-51 win.

Belen (6-4) had a lead of “eight to 10 points” throughout the game, said coach Patrick Mondragon, but Santa Fe cut the lead to two late before being held off by the plucky Eagles.

“The kids were good about keeping their composure and finishing strong,” Mondragon said. “They played hard and found a way to pull it out.”

Belen led 19-11 after the first quarter but Santa Fe began to chip away at the lead and trailed 31-25 at halftime.

Colton Lewis paced all scorers with 17 points.

Belen played Albuquerque Academy at home Tuesday night, losing 62-59 to the Chargers. The Eagles host Rio Grande Monday night before traveling to West Mesa next Tuesday night.

Look for coverage of Tuesday’s Belen-Academy and Valencia-Bernalillo games in next Thursday’s edition of the News-Bulletin.