Boys Dist. 6-4A Tourney: Tigers too swift for Gallup in title game

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Since the ’40s, singers have been calling out “Second verse, same as the first.”

For the Los Lunas boys basketball team, Saturday night’s District 6-4A Championship game was a case of “third verse, same as the first.”

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: LOS LUNAS SENIORS Randy Moore (5) and Sasha Gonzalez, right, defend a Gallup player during the Boys District 6-4A Tournament championship game at Los Lunas High School Saturday.

Like their first game of the district slate this season, the Tigers almost immediately transformed a game that should have been a close contest into a dominating performance, defeating Gallup 87-70 Saturday night in a game that was seldom even that close in the second half.

Seniors Jordan Holland and Chris Sanchez again turned an important game into their own private game of “top this,” scoring 28 and 25 points, respectively for the Tigers as LLHS claimed both the league regular season title and tournament title for the second consecutive season.

LLHS coach Travis Julian had high praise for seniors Randy Moore, Chad Murphy and Sasha Gonzalez, as well as the team’s bench — all of whom contributed a great defensive showing against Gallup.

“Those three kids, with Jalen (Chavez) coming off the bench, Wayne Byers — Kayden Walker, the freshman — that’s a solid group of nine kids,” said Julian.

“The fear is they (other teams) are not going to let Jake and Chris beat us so can the other guys beat them.”

Julian said he thought his team proved they were more than the two starts on Saturday.

“We scored 87 points and you don’t do that with two players,” he said. “You do that with a team.”

Leading 5-3 early on, the Tigers rode the hot hand of Holland, who scored 14 points in the first quarter to get Los Lunas off to a 24-15 lead.

Gallup started the second quarter with a 7-2 run to cut the lead to 26-22 midway through the quarter. But Los Lunas finished the half on a 10-0 run to take the Bengals’ large, vociferous crowd out of the game and cruise to a 40-24 halftime lead.

After an even third quarter, the Tigers put the pedal to the metal in the fourth quarter, out-scoring the Bengals 20-7 over the first four minutes of the fourth quarter to take a commanding 81-51 lead before pulling their seniors and starters from the game.

“We broke down the things that were hurting us, like the threes and not letting them do anything high low,” Moore said. “You could see (in the second half) that they weren’t running their offense.

“They were just jacking up threes. There were guys open but they just kept shooting and that’s what led to their downfall,” he said.

Seniors Moore and Murphy added nine and eight points, respectively, for LLHS in the win.

Gallup’s Ronald Lee scored 13 of his team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter. Tyler John and Matt Begay added 12 points and 16 points, respectively, for the Bengals.

“Going 24-0 the last two seasons is amazing,” said Chavez. “It’s all because of the teamwork and extra hours we put in.

“Just keeping each other accountable, even in school with study halls and all that, he said.”

Los Lunas’ Holland and Sanchez were named co-players of the year in addition to being named to the first team all-district team.

LLHS coach Travis Julian was named Coach of the Year.

Joining Sanchez and Holland on the first team were Belen’s Thomas Cordova and Colton Lewis, as well as Valencia’s Quentin Wanstall and Josh Baca.

Murphy and Moore were named to the second team all-district team, along with Valencia’s Josh Doyle and Belen’s Antonio Chavez.

Honorable mention honorees included Gonzales for Los Lunas, Belen’s Brandon Ammons and Valencia’s Garrett Gibson.

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