By George Morse
McCurdy Charter School junior Andres Martinez has been reunited with the Bobcats and it feels so good.
The 6-foot, 4-inch Martinez is McCurdy’s leading scorer and rebounder. He missed all three games of the Ben Lujan tournament Dec. 19-21 at Pojoaque Valley High School with the flu. The Bobcats lost all three. Since he returned to action, the Bobcats are on a three-game winning streak. Their latest victory was a 67-59 overtime win over Dulce High School in the opening round of the Northern Rio Grande tournament Jan. 2 at Pojoaque Valley High School. Martinez had 25 points and dominated the glass.
“It’s nice,” McCurdy Coach Ernesto Espinoza said. “The team is starting to gel nicely. We’re moving the ball real good. Andres is a big part of what we do”
McCurdy nearly gave the game away against Dulce. Leading 34-29 at the end of the third quarter, McCurdy went on an 11-2 run to take a 45-31 lead. The Bobcats were up 49-36 when Dulce took advantage of some bad passes and an even worse decision to get back into the game.
Santiago Largo hit a pair of free throws for the Hawks. Antonio Tellez drained a three-pointer, then was fouled by McCurdy’s Diego Delgado. Delgado didn’t like the call and showed it. He was called for a technical foul. Tellez sank 3-of-4 free throws with 2:07 left in regulation. On the ensuing possession, Zeke Castleberry hit a baseline jumper and the score now was 49-46. McCurdy’s Josh Esquibel had fouled out after scoring 14 points and momentum was in Dulce’s favor.
McCurdy’s Santiago Samora was fouled hard going to the basket. He had to leave the game. Markus Martinez shot the free throws for Samora and nailed them both. Tellez scored and Largo canned a pair of free throws to make the score 51-50 in favor of McCurdy. A free throw by Nicholas Croff gave the Bobcats a 52-50 lead with 34.6 seconds left.
Largo scored inside to tie the game with 19.1 seconds left. McCurdy didn’t get off a good shot and the game went into overtime. Tellez had 12 points and Largo nine points in the fourth quarter for Dulce.
McCurdy got off to a good start in overtime. Croff scored on a drive and after a Hawk turnover Andres Martinez scored to give the Bobcats a 56-52 lead. Dulce cut the lead to a point when Kai Cassador stole an inbounds pass and sank a layup following a Tellez free throw.
In the final two minutes of overtime McCurdy took control of the game thanks to turnovers and missed shots by the Hawks. Martinez had six points during an 11-2 McCurdy run. The Bobcats hung on for a 67-59 victory.
“We won that game in spite of ourselves,” Coach Espinoza said.
The Bobcats will face a stiff challenge if they want to extend their winning streak to four games. They face Pecos High School in the semifinals Jan. 3 of the Northern Rio Grande. Pecos appears to be an unstoppable juggernaut in Class 2A. The Panthers ar 9-1 on the season. Their only loss was to Class 5A Santa Fe High School.
“All roads lead through Pecos,” Coach Esquibel said. “You have to protect the ball and you can’t turn it over. That’s just the way Pecos plays. Everything you do is going to be challenged.”