#12 is Dominic Roybal making it happen. Photo by George Morse with the Valley Daily Post
Pojoaque Defends Home Court, Beats Las Vegas Robertson
By George Morse Sports and Outdoors
The Pojoaque Valley High School boys basketball team faced a tough opener in District 2AAAA, hosting the red hot Robertson High School Cardinals Feb. 3 at Ben Lujan Gym. The 18-3 Cardinals came to town riding a 13-game winning streak and were ranked second in Class 4A.
The Elks were up to the challenge and took a 58-52 victory, defending their home court for an important start to what promises to be a competitive battle for the District 2AAAA championship.
“I told the team that we have five more district games and they are all going to be like this,” Pojoaque Coach Joey Trujillo said. “We didn’t do anything but protect our home floor. Everybody has to do that if they want to have a chance to win the district championship.”
Pojoaque is ranked fourth in Class 4A. The Elks have established a reputation for being stingy on defense, holding opponents to an average of 40 points-per-game. Of their four losses, two came to teams that managed to reach or exceed the 50-point barrier.
“We have a hard time getting into the 60’s,” Coach Trujillo said. “But teams have a hard time getting into the 50’s against us.”
Against Robertson, the Elks came up with just enough extra offense to pull out the win.
The first quarter saw the Cardinals take a 12-9 lead after a three-pointer by Noah Leger. Despite the instructions of Robertson Coach Manny Romero, the Elks were able to get off a three-pointer, which Dominic Roybal buried at the buzzer to tie the score 12-12 at the end of the first quarter.
Taking a 15-14 lead after an old-fashioned, three-point play by Chris Cordova, Pojoaque stayed in front of the Cardinals throughout the second quarter. The Elks took a 25-18 lead after a pair of baskets by James Garcia finished off a 13-4 run. The Cardinals closed the gap to two points after a pair of free throws by Diego Chavez made the score 25-23 at halftime.
Robertson came back to lead 29-27 in the third quarter when Pojoaque’s Darrell Vigil caught fire from the perimeter. Finding himself open on the perimeter, Vigil threw in three straight three-pointers. He accounted for all the points in a 10-2 run by the Elks that gave Pojoaque a 37-31 lead.
#34 is Chris Cordova. Photo by George Morse with the Valley Daily Post
“Robertson was in a 1-3-1 zone,” Coach Trujillo said. “We thought they would gravitate towards James (Garcia) and that the skip pass to the other side would be open. Darrell had the confidence to shoot. His teammates were unselfish enough to give him the ball.”
Vigil missed the first half of the season because he was ineligible as a transfer student from Espanola Valley High School. He acknowledged it was his teammates who set him up to score.
“You can’t make the shot without a good pass,” he said. “They found me open once they realized I was hot.”
After the Cardinals closed the gap to 37-35, Garcia showed that Robertson needed to watch him too, burying a three-pointer. With time running out in the third quarter, Garcia scored on an alley opp pass on an inbounds play under the basket to give Pojoaque a 42-37 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The score was 44-37 in favor of Pojoaque when Robertson’s Sebastian Gonzalez single-handedly brought the Cardinals back. He sank a three-pointer, nailed a jumper, sank three straight free throws and finished with another three-pointer to complete an 11-2 run that gave Robertson a 48-46 lead with 3:18 left in the game. Gonzalez led all scorers with 26 points.
After a Pojoaque turnover, Garcia kept the Cardinals from extending their lead, stealing a pass and going in for a layup to tie the score at 48-48. An off-balance shot by Arjay Ortiz that somehow found its way to the basket put the Cardinals back in front.
On their next possession, Pojoaque got the ball inside to Andres Romero and he banked in a 5-footer while drawing a foul. His free throw gave the lead back to Pojoaque 51-50 with 2:16 left in the game.
#32 is Darrel Vigil takes the shot. Photo by George Morse with the Valley Daily Post
Robertson’s shots started to come up short and when they bounced off the rim Pojoaque seemed to be always there for the rebound.
“We couldn’t let them get second and third chances,” Coach Trujillo said.
Roybal scooped in a layup after driving down the lane and after Garcia blocked a shot Roybal nailed two free throws with 31 seconds left for a 55-50 Elks’ lead. After Robertson’s Warren Fulgenzi missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Garcia added a free throw with 24 seconds left. Another Robertson miss led to a breakaway layup by Pojoaque’s Tevin Flowers that made the score 58-50 in Pojoaque’s favor. A meaningless basket by Robertson’s Francisco Arguello ended the game.
Garcia led Pojoaque with 16 points. Vigil finished with 12 points.
“We’re a grind-it-out kind of team,” Coach Trujillo said. “We’re not a finesse team. We rely on our defense. Tonight, we had enough firepower to win the game.”
Photos: For Pojoaque boys #12 is Dominic Roybal, #34 is Chris Cordova, #32 is Darrel Vigil. For girls #32 is Rachael Garcia