Espanola Boys Basketball

Sundevils improve to 12-2, defeat Robertson, St. Michael’s
Valley Daily Post
The Española Valley High School boys basketball team picked up a pair of victories last week, defeating two Class 4A teams from District 2-4A. The Sundevils defeated Robertson High School 67-59 Jan. 4 and St. Michael’s High School Jan. 7 with both games being played at Española.
It was the second meeting between the two schools when Robertson came to town Jan. 4 to face the Sundevils. Española had faced the Cardinals Dec. 8 at the Sandia Prep tournament. The Sundevils had no trouble in that game, beating Robertson 64-35. In fairness to the Cardinals, they were just coming out of football season and were not at full strength.
In the rematch Jan. 4 in Española, the Sundevils surged ahead, thanks to the return of Josh Salazar to the lineup. Salazar hit five, three-pointers for all of his 15 points and Española led by as many as 19 points. The Cardinals rallied in the fourth quarter and made the final score a more respectable 67-59 in favor of the Sundevils.
Four players did the bulk of the scoring for Española. In addition to Salazar’s 15 points, Christian Fernandez had 17 points and James Archuleta 16 points. Azaziah Salazar finished with 12 points for Española.
Against St. Michael’s Jan. 7, the Sundevils faced a disciplined and patient team. St. Michael’s Coach Ron Geyer is well-known for wanting to control the pace of the game and his deliberate style is reflected by his team. Low-scoring games are standard for the Horsemen.
Although the Sundevils dominated the first half, the slow pace kept St. Michael’s within shouting distance. Archuleta had 11 points in the first half and Española led 24-15 at halftime. It appeared that the Sundevils had all but settled the outcome in the third quarter. Española hit three, three-pointers and Archuleta added seven more points to his game-high total of 18 points. With Archuleta and Azaziah Salazar shutting off the inside, the Horsemen were forced to take perimeter shots. All of St. Michael’s third-quarter points came on three-point shots. Española led 44-29 going into the fourth quarter.
Those three-pointers kept falling for the Horsemen, while Española hit a short scoring drought in the fourth quarter. St. Michael’s sank three, three-pointers and had an old-fashioned three-point play to put together a 12-2 run and suddenly St. Michael’s was just five points down 46-41.
An old-fashioned, three-point play by Fernandez on a breakaway layup made the margin a little more comfortable and Española was deadly accurate from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. The Sundevils sank 9-of-9 attempts, including 5-of-5 by Fernandez, to secure the victory.
Española has a big game coming up on Saturday when defending Class 6A state champion Rio Rancho High School takes on the Sundevils. The Rams defeated Española 79-60 Dec. 29 at Rio Rancho. Española will be looking to even the score on their home court.