McCurdy Avenges Earlier Losses, Then Slips Back

McCurdy Avenges Earlier Losses, Then Slips Back
McCurdy’s Jayson Bustos flies through the air after driving to the basket. Photo by  George Morse\
Valley Daily Post
It’s been a roller-coaster ride for McCurdy Charter School so far this basketball season. They are not alone. For many of the small high schools in Northern New Mexico, losing to teams they had previously beaten while beating teams they had previously lost to seems to be the norm rather than the exception.
The Bobcats are a prime example. McCurdy had losses to Mesa Vista and Escalante on their record and the Bobcats appeared to be struggling with just a 5-11 record after a Friday the 13th loss to Maxwell High School in January. McCurdy would be facing two teams it had already lost to in its next two games.
The first of those two games was against Escalante High School Jan. 14 at McCurdy.  With post Ubaldo Barela leading the way, McCurdy jumped out to an 18-8 lead in the first quarter. Barela had eight points while McCurdy’s defense was frustrating the Lobos.
Escalante finally figured the Bobcats out and poured in 23 points in the second quarter. McCurdy managed to hang on to the lead thanks to Barela, who had seven more points to finish the first half with 15 points.
The Bobcats led 33-31 at halftime.
Free throws proved to be the difference in the third quarter. The Bobcats sank 6-of-8 from the line, while the Lobos were just 7-of-17. McCurdy led 47-42 heading into the fourth quarter.
Escalante’s Waylon Hinds, tried his best to bring the Lobos back in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 points. With just Hinds and Justin Garcia scoring for Escalante, the Lobos couldn’t catch the Bobcats. Barela was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line as McCurdy scored its final seven points from the charity stripe to hold on for a 67-60 victory. Barela led all scorers with 25 points.
With one earlier loss avenged, the Bobcats looked to avenge another when they faced Mesa Vista Jan. 17 at McCurdy. The Trojans numbers were a bit depleted due to injuries and ineligibility, but Mesa Vista was hanging tough against McCurdy in the first quarter.
Xavier Varela had already scored 10 points for the Trojans, thanks in part to going 6-of-6 from the free-throw line after being fouled twice beyond the three-point arc. Mesa Vista held a 19-14 lead.
That all changed in a heartbeat. McCurdy went into a full-court press and the Trojans began turning the ball over on practically every possession.
The Bobcats ran off seven unanswered points to lead 21-19 at the end of the first quarter.
The rout continued in the second quarter as the Bobcats kept creating turnovers. To compound matters, McCurdy was dominating the paint and snatching practically every rebound.
When the smoke had cleared, the Bobcats had poured in 32 points in the second quarter and held a commanding 53-25 lead at halftime.
Ubaldo Barela had 21 points, including 13 in the second quarter, for McCurdy in the first half.
Things slowed down a bit in the third quarter. The Bobcats scored just 14 points, but had extended their lead to 67-35 heading into the fourth quarter.  The final score was 87-50 in favor of the Bobcats. Despite not scoring in the fourth quarter, Barela led all scorers with 27 points.
“They’re starting to play team basketball,” McCurdy Coach Ernesto Espinoza said.
“When we have opportunities to press we’re definitely going to take them. They’re playing with a lot of confidence. Hopefully, we can carry the momentum into districts.”
However, just when it seemed that McCurdy’s roller-coaster ride was headed up, just as quickly it went down. In a rematch against Escalante Jan. 20 in Tierra Amarilla, McCurdy was run out of gym in a 68-40 rout by the Lobos.
If the Bobcats are going to carry some momentum into district play, they will need to do so soon. McCurdy opens play in District 2-3A Saturday hosting Santa Fe Prep School.
The Griffins are also struggling at 5-11 on the season. Both teams need to do well in district competition to secure even a low seed in the Class 3A state basketball tournament.