Pojoaque Picks Up Win Against Robertson

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Pojoque's Dante Ortiz looks to make a move against a Silver High School defender in the consolation finals at the Sandia Prep Sundevil Invitational. The Elks lost 38-27 to the Colts. Ortiz scored 11 points in the fourth quarter of Pojoaque's 55-49 victory over Robertson in the consolation semifinals.

Pojoaque Picks Up Win Against Robertson

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

The Pojoaque Valley High School boys basketball team picked up a confidence-building victory between two narrow defeats at the Sandia Prep Invitational tournament in Albuquerque. Trailing 28-17 at halftime, the Elks rallied in the second half for a 55-49 victory over Robertson High School Dec. 7 in the consolation semifinals. Pojoaque had lost to host Sandia Prep 57-45 in the opening round Dec. 6 and then lost to Silver High School 38-27 Dec. 8 in the consolation finals.

“It was a hard-fought win,” Pojoaque Coach Thomas Vigil said. “Robertson jumped out on us. We showed character in coming back. It was effort. We just kept plugging away. Effort got us back in the game and execution won it. We really executed the last two-and-a-half minutes.”

Pojoaque cut Robertson’s lead to 39-35 by the end of the third quarter. Pojoaque’s Dante Ortiz caught fire in the fourth quarter and scored 11 of his game-high 16 points to lead the Elks charge.  All of Ortiz’s points came in the second half. The Elks were 6-of-6 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to help hold off the Cardinals.

In addition to Ortiz’s contributions, Noah de la Cruz and Marcos Vigil each had 11 points.

In their opening game against the host Sundevils, Pojoaque looked like it would be blown out in the first half, scoring just six points in the first quarter and trailing 34-17 at halftime. Although they never quite caught the Sundevils in the second half, the Elks gave up no more ground and actually gained a little on Sandia Prep. The Elks ended up losing 57-45 to the Sundevils.

In the consolation finals, Silver High School played a very disciplined half court offense that patiently looked for good shots. That frustrated the impatient Elks, who had a tendency to pull the trigger too quickly. Silver held Pojoaque to just three points and led 9-3 going into the second quarter. The slow tempo of play and lack of scoring helped keep the Elks in the game. Pojoaque trailed 19-11 at halftime.

In the second half, the pace never really picked up despite Pojoaque putting fullcourt pressure on the Colts. The shots still weren’t falling for the Elks, but at least Silver was having trouble putting points on the board. The Colts were ahead 27-17 when Pojoaque’s Andrew Garcia launched a shot from midcourt at the buzzer that miraculously found its mark, cutting Silver’s lead to 27-20 heading into the fourth quarter.

After Garcia’s shot, Pojoaque couldn’t find the basket for nearly five minutes. The Colts patiently built a 33-20 lead before Pojoaque got on the board again. With 3:10 left in the game, Jacen Lujan canned a free throw on his second try after being given a second chance due to a lane violation on the Colts. Pojoaque’s last gasp came a minute later when Vigil canned a three-pointer to make it 34-24. Pojoaque forced a turnover and De la Cruz scored to cut Silver’s lead to just eight points. The Elks forced another turnover and could have cut the lead to even less, but could not capitalize on the opportunity. Silver was able to hang on for a 38-27 victory.

Pojoaque has a very young team with only one senior (Diego Trujillo) on the roster. Coach Vigil is trying to instill some confidence in the team to prepare them for district competition later in the season.

“We leave this tournament disappointed,” Coach Vigil said. “It’s hard to keep taking moral victories. We want to turn this around this year and not wait until next year.”

Pojoaque takes on former District 2-4A rival St. Michael’s High School Tuesday in Santa Fe. Once fierce rivals, the Elks and the Horsemen still look forward to playing each other.

​Pojoaque's Dante Ortiz drives into the lane against Silver.

​Pojoaque's Jacen Lujan drives to the basket against Silver.

 Pojoaque's Marcos Vigil handles the ball against Silver.