WEB EXCLUSIVE: No. 2 Tiger hoops boys defeat Capital in state opener

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LOS LUNAS  – The Los Lunas boys chose the Twitter hashtag “#redemption” as the single word written on the backs of the t-shirts celebrating their back-to-back district titles – a reference to the team’s desire to win a Class 4A championship this season after falling in the Final Four last season.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: LOS LUNAS SENIOR Chris Sanchez drives to the basket against a Capital defender during the Tigers’ 55-38 win over the Jaguars in the first round of the Class 4A Boys State Tournament Saturday night.

The second-seeded Tigers took their first step toward that redemption 15th-seeded Capital, but it wasn’t as easy as the final 53-38 score of the first round game in the Boys State Tournament would indicate.
Los Lunas was slowed by the Jaguars disciplined defense, but overcame that and early foul trouble to advance to Wednesday’s quarterfinals against the seventh-seeded Albuquerque Academy. You can read all about that game online at www.news-bulletin.com today or in next Thursday’s print edition.
On Saturday night, senior Chris Sanchez scored eight of his game-high 23 points in the critical second quarter as Los Lunas went without Sanchez’ partner in crime, senior Jacob Holland, who had first half foul trouble.
“I though we were a little tight coming and some of the shots that usually fall for us didn’t fall and that made them tighter,” said Los Lunas coach Travis Julian. “But I thought they did a great job defensively and that was key.”
Los Lunas (23-5) led just 7-4 after the first quarter but went on a 6-2 run midway through the second quarter on their way to a 25-14 halftime lead. The Tigers cemented the lead with a 7-4 run to start the third quarter as Capital (10-16) struggled to find a cohesive offensive attack.
“Midway through the second quarter we allowed them to gap us a little bit, we just weren’t taking care of the basketball and we weren’t really looking to score for some reason,” said Captial coach Ben Gomez. “But give credit to Los Lunas, they played hard and strong and with a lot of confidence.”
Guard Chad Murphy said having an off game as their opener in the state tournament might work in the team’s favor.
“It’s good because we can see what we can fix in the next couple of days and come back together as a team,” said the senior.
As for the hashtag, the meaning is simple, Murphy said.
“Last year we lost by two possessions in The Pit,” he said. “This year we just want to go all the way.”

NO. 2 LOS LUNAS 53, NO. 15 CAPITAL 38
CAPITAL (10-16) Anthony Garcia 6, Jesus Diaz 10, Eric Coca 8, Augie Larrazaga 6, Ivan Olivas 8. Totals 12-FG-8-9 FT 38
LOS LUNAS (23-5) Jacob Holland 9, Randy Moore 7, Jalen Chavez 6, Sasha Gallegos 2, Wayne Byers 3, Kayden Walker 3, Chris Sanchez 23. Totals 18-FG 12-15-FG 53

Capital        4    10    9    15 = 38
Los Lunas    7    18    9    19 = 53

3-point goals: LL 5 (Sanchez 3, Walker, Byers); C 2 (Garcia 2)
Team fouls: LL 14;  C 16.
Fouled Out: C, Diaz.

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