Española's John Garcia goes up and almost dunks the ball in the Sundevils 73-58 victory over Los Alamos Jan. 27 at Los Alamos. The Sundevils are 3-0 in District 2-4A
Española 3-0 in District 2-4A
By George Morse
The Española Valley High School boys basketball team has been taking care of business in District 2-4A. The Sundevils have defeated Los Alamos High School, Moriarty High School and Pojoaque Valley High School, teams they needed to beat. Española is 3-0 in District 2-4A. Los Alamos, Moriarty and Pojoaque represent the bottom of District 2-4A, having a combined record of just 13-46 overall. The Sundevils could not afforf to falter against these teams as they prepare for a showdown with Taos High School. The Tigers are the only other team in District 2-4A with a winning record, being 13-6 on the season. Española is 12-8 overall.
Sundevils Lay a Licking on Los Alamos
In what has been a good rivalry over the years, Española defeated the Hilltoppers 73-58, picking up an important win on the road Jan. 29 in Los Alamos. Behind 26 points from steady point guard Ryan Trujillo, the Sundevils used a big second quarter to take control of the game and withstood the Hilltoppers attempts at coming back in the second half to cruise to victory.
“Los Alamos came out and gave us a good game,” Española Coach James Branch said. “We’re 3-0 in district. That’s the bottom line.”
The Hilltoppers started the game playing well and matching Española blow-forblow. The Hilltoppers took a 12-13 lead at 2:05 of the first quarter on a Matthew Owen free throw. Trujillo, as he would do all game long when Los Alamos threatened, put Española back in front 13-12 with a jumper. Jordan Duda nailed a three-pointer to give Española a 16-12 lead at the buzzer ending the first quarter.
Duda canned another three-pointer to start the second quarter and post Justino Rascon muscled in two basket from the paint as the Sundevils started with a 7-0 run. After two free throws by Los Alamos’ Gavin Campos, the Sundevils got their running game going in high gear. Trujillo, Luis Molina and Brian Martinez all scored on fast break layups to give Española a 29-14 lead. Hasty shots by the Hilltoppers kept Española running up and down the court and when the buzzer sounded for halftime the Sundevils held a 40-22 lead.
“At the very end of the first quarter and in the second quarter, we didn’t take care of business,” Los Alamos Coach Michael Kluk said.
Los Alamos made a run at Española in the third quarter thanks to four three-pointers. Brian Irwin had a pair of them and David Owen’s three-pointer cut Española’s lead in half 49-40. Trujillo put a stop to the momentum with a driving layup and the Sundevils still led comfortably 57-42 heading into the fourth quarter.
A 6-2 run by Española to start the fourth quarter gave the Sundevils a 63-44 lead and all but ended the Hilltoppers’ hopes of catching the Sundevils. With about two minutes left in the game, both teams emptied their benches and Española cruised to a 73-58 victory.
“We’re jelling,” Trujillo said. “Players are stepping up and getting more involved. That’s a big part of it. We need to focus on defense a little more. We want to get some momentum going into March.”
Sundevils Maul Moriarty
In their second District 2-4A matchup against Moriarty High School Jan.26 at Española, the Sundevils pounded the Pintos. Española quickly established its dominance and by halftime had taken a 54-18 lead. The second half was played with a running clock under the 35-point mercy rule. Española pulled away to a dominating 88-31 win.
Trujillo had 22 points and Gabriel Serrano broke out with a 20-point effort against the Pintos. Brian Martinez had 18 points and John Garcia 10 points for Española against the hapless Pintos, who are just 3-17 on the season.
Española Prevails Over Pesky Pojoaque
In their opening game of competition in District 2-4A against local rival Pojoaque Valley High School Jan. 24 at Pojoaque, the Sundevils withstood a stout defensive effort by the Elks to come away with a 57-50 victory. The rivalry between the two schools is a long and intense one. So much so that for a number of years the two teams never played each other because it was feared passion among the fans would boil over. Now both members of the same district for the first time, the renewal of this rivalry promises to produce some great games now and in the future.
Despite their 5-15 record overall, Pojoaque came out strong and took a 10-4 lead in the first quarter.Española responded with a 9-2 run. A basket by John Garcia gave the Sundevils a 13-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Española started the second quarter with a 9-0 run that Trujillo started with a pair of free throws and finished with a layup to give the Sundevils a 22-12 lead. Pojoaque cut the lead to four points 24-20 before Brian Martinez canned a three-pointer. Martinez would struggle from the perimeter against the Elks, sinking just the one three-pointer while misfiring from the perimeter seven times.
“We didn’t shoot very well,” Coach Branch said.
Trujillo added an old-fashioned, three-point play and a basket by Luis Molina helped the Sundevils maintain a 10-point lead 34-24 at halftime.
Pojoaque’s Marcos Vigil hit a three-pointer to start the third quarter, cutting Española’s lead to seven points. The Sundevils responded with a 6-0 run, taking their biggest lead of the game 40-27 after a basket by Christian Aizpuro. The Elks cut the lead back to seven points with a 6-0 run of their own that ended with a basket by Lukas Archibeque.
Trujillo pushed the lead back to 10 points with a three-pointer. Española led 47-37 heading into the fourth quarter.
Once again the Elks cut Española’s lead to seven point on an Archibeque three-pointer. Española pushed the lead to 53-42 with basket by Rascon. The lead was seven points again at 53-46 and again at 58-45, but both times Trujillo canned a pair of free throws to push the lead to nine points. Trujillo’s last pair of free throws came with 1:05 left in the game and Pojoaque managed just one more basket after that. Española took a 57-50 victory.
“I’ve had a lot of ugly wins and this was one of them,” Coach Branch said. “But I’ve had a lot of ugly losses. I’ll take an ugly win any day.”
Española will have more than a week to prepare for their showdown against District 2-4A rival Taos High School Feb. 7 in Española. Branch was the head coach at Taos until 2004 when both schools were district rivals. Both schools returned to District 2-4A this season to renew the district rivalry.
Española's Ryan Trujillo goes up strong against the Hilltoppers as Los Alamos' David Owen tries to block his shot. Trujillo scored 26 points (photo by John McHale).
Española's Ryan Trujillo reaches for the ball against the Los Alamos Hilltoppers (photo by John McHale).
Los Alamos' Gabe Holesinger is swarmed by Española defenders (photo by John McHale).
Pojoaque's Lukas Archibeque shoots over Española's Justino Rascon in the Sundevils' 57-50 victory over the Elks Jan. 24 at Pojoaque.