McCurdy Takes Third At NRG, Currently Ranked Fifth

McC team NRG
The McCurdy Charter School boys basketball team took third place at the Northern Rio Grande Basketball tournament, defeating Dulce High School 69-60 Jann. 5 at Pojoaque Valley High School. The Bobcats are currently ranked fifth in Class 2A.                                                                                                                                

McCurdy Defeats Dulce For Third at NRG

By George Morse

McCurdy Charter School came back after a tough semifinal loss to Mora High School and defeated Dulce High School 69-60 to earn the third-place trophy at the Northern Rio Grande basketball tournament Jan. 5 at Pojoaque Valley High School.

The Bobcats had beaten Mesa Vista High School 73-41 in the opening round of the tournament Jan. 3 at Pojoaque. Post Ubaldo Barela led the Bobcats with 25 points. In the semifinals, McCurdy started off taking an 11-5 lead over Mora High School. Mora would come back and take a 63-55 victory.

The Bobcats and the Mora Rangers were even 11-11 after one quarter Jan. 4 in their semifinal battle. Mora went ahead in the second quarter and held a 28-25 lead at halftime.

It was in the third quarter that the Rangers put some separation between themselves and the Bobcats. Mora’s Jerome Pacheco had seven points during a 12-4 Mora run that gave the Rangers an 11-point lead. McCurdy post Ubaldo Barela disappeared from the Bobcats’ offense as McCurdy showed little patience and fired up shots from the perimeter or made crazy drives to the basket.

“We got away from what we do, which is to get the ball into our bigs,” McCurdy Coach Ernesto Espinoza said. “We were settling for three-pointers that we weren’t hitting. That led to long rebounds and they (Mora) were getting layups.”

A pair of breakaway layups by Mora’s Kenny Martinez closed out the third quarter as the Rangers maintained that 11-point advantage and led 46-35 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Bobcats cut Mora’s lead down to three points 48-45 in the fourth quarter after a basket by Raul Arroyo. Mora responded with a 7-0 run that put them back in control with a 55-45 lead. Lefonso Castillo nailed a three-pointer, then had a breakaway layup. A basket by Pacheco finished off the run. Mora then put the game away from the free-throw line. The Rangers went 8-of-10 from the charity stripe to keep the Bobcats at bay and advanced to the championship game.

Against Dulce, the Bobcats went back to Barela and he scored 14 points to help the Bobcats take a 36-31 lead at halftime. Barela began the third quarter with an old-fashioned, three-point play and McCurdy built a 47-35 lead with 2:40 left in the third quarter. McCurdy eased up and Dulce came back with an 11-2 run that ended with a three-pointer at the buzzer by Ross Julian to cut McCurdy’s lead to 49-46 heading into the fourth quarter.

Dulce kept hanging tough and three times cut McCurdy’s lead to two points in the fourth quarter. The last time came after a steal and layup led to an old-fashioned, three-point play by Antonio Tellez that made the score 61-59 in favor of McCurdy.

The Hawks, however, then hit a stretch where they couldn’t put the ball in the basket and McCurdy was able to pull away. Ernesto Martinez and Kemmer Croff evenly split 10 points in the fourth quarter and McCurdy held on to a 69-60 victory to take third place.

The Bobcats traveled to Estancia High School to participate in the Bean Valley tournament following the Northern Rio Grande. McCurdy beat Bosque School 57-56 Jan. 10 in the opening round.

“We were pretty much in control most of the game,” Coach Espinoza said. “They hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to make the final score look closer than it actually was.”

Monte del Sol Charter School was McCurdy’s next opponent and the Dragons will be future District 2-2A rivals of the Bobcats. Monte del Sol led 29-23 at halftime.

“I think our minds were on Estancia and we played a terrible first half,” Coach Espinoza said. “When we went into the locker room I called the guys out.”

McCurdy responded with a dominating third quarter, outscoring Monte del Sol 25-9 to take a 48-38 lead in to the fourth quarter.

“It wasn’t just one guy,” Coach Espinoza said. “It was all the guys. The whole team bonded well.”

McCurdy went on to take a 68-54 victory and advance to the championship game against the host Estancia Bears. Estancia jumped on McCurdy in the first quarter and took a 33-18 lead.

“For the rest of the game we were playing catch up,” Coach Espinoza said. “You expend a lot of energy. It seemed like whenever we’d get within single digits, they’d come down and hit a three (pointer) and it was back to double digits again.”

The rest of the game was pretty even. McCurdy never could overcome that big first-quarter lead by the Bears and Estancia came away with a 93-82 victory.

The Bobcats are currently ranked fifth in the state with an 11-3 record, but losses to sixth-ranked Mora High School and the eighth-ranked Bears may change that. McCurdy has key games coming up against Class 3A West Las Vegas High School Tuesday at McCurdy and defending state champion Pecos High School Jan. 26 at Pecos.  

McCurdy's Ubaldo Barela scores against Mora at the Northern Rio Grande basketball tournament Jan. 4 at Pojoaque Valley High Schoo. Barela recently surpassed 1,000 points scored during his career at McCurdy.