Sundevils Boys Place Second In District 2-5A Tournament

Espanola’s Isaiah Vigil shots for the basket against Capital
Española's Isaiah Vigil shoots for the basket against Capital. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Sundevils Boys Place Second In District 2-5A Tournament

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

Capital High School broke another pattern in their decisive 50-35 victory over

Española Valley High School Feb. 24 in the District 2-5A boys basketball tournament championship game in Santa Fe. In four previous games against the Sundevils, the game had come down to the fourth quarter before the outcome was decided.

Capital had snapped a streak of three straight games against Española where they lost a game in which they were leading in the fourth quarter with a 55-48 victory over Española in a playoff game Feb. 20 at Los Alamos that determined the regular season District 2-5A champion and earned the Jaguars the right to host the tournament championship game.


Española’s James Archuleta drives to the basket against Capital. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

In the tournament championship game, the Jaguars took the lead in the second quarter and outscored Española 15-4 in the third quarter to take control of the game. The Sundevils couldn’t cut Capital’s lead to under 12 points in the fourth quarter.

Leading 20-14 at halftime, the Jaguars used a pressing defense to force the Española into seven turnovers while patiently running their offense when they weren’t scoring in transition off of those turnovers in the third quarter.

Two Española turnovers to start the third quarter led to a basket by Aaron Garcia and an old-fashioned, three-point play by Isaiah Brooks. The Jaguars took a 27-18 lead and continued to force turnovers by the Sundevils. Tyler Alarid and Jeremy Anaya had baskets. A block by Brooks led to a transition score by Garcia and after another Española turnover Marcos Vargas finished off a 10-0 run by Capital that gave the Jaguars a 35-18 lead.


Española’s Christian Fernandez was called for a player-control foul after crashing into Capital’s Isaiah Brooks . Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

“Our defense is our staple,” Anaya said. “We work on it every day in practice. This whole week we’ve been working on defense. Taking away the baseline and getting help from the side.”

It became a 14-0 run as Anaya and Alarid scored to start the fourth quarter. That gave Capital its biggest lead of the game 39-18. Española had gone almost seven minutes without scoring and had dug themselves into a hole too deep to crawl out of.

The first quarter featured four points by Garcia, who sank a free throw and hit a three-pointer to give Capital a 4-2 lead. Española came back with two baskets by Azaziah Salazar to take a 6-4 lead. Matt Smith hit a three-pointer to give the Jaguars a one-point lead. JP Sena scored for the Sundevils to put in front 8-7. It was the last lead Española would have. Alarid sank a free throw with 33 seconds left to tie the score, then stole the ball at midcourt and drove in for a layup to give Capital a10-8 lead after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the Jaguars’ defense that would dominate the second half started to assert itself. Garcia had two more baskets, one off a nice assist from Brooks in transition. Anaya scored off a turnover and Capital led by six points at halftime.

Española’s Ryan Trujillo drives down the lane against Capital. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Garcia led Capital with a game-high 12 points, while Alarid and Anaya each had 10 points. Salazar led Española with 11 points.

Last season, Capital won a playoff game in Los Alamos and the District 2-5A tournament championship only to lose to Española 36-34 in the Class 5A state championship game. The first two times Capital faced Española this season, the Sundevils still had the Jaguars’ number. Now that Capital has won the last two games against Española, they appear to have broken the spell and are perhaps peaking at the right time.

“This is a new team,” Garcia, a junior, said. “We have three seniors. We’ve got some new guys. We’re ready to play in the state tournament.”

SEMIFINAL WIN OVER DEL NORTE

The terrible third quarter by Española against Capital in the District 2-5A championship game (see above) was two steps back after a step forward by the Sundevils. Española appeared to have shaken off a disturbing trend of playing badly in the third quarter in a 61-50 win over Del Norte High School Feb. 23 in the semifinals of the District 5A tournament at Española.

Leading just 18-16 at halftime, the Sundevils had blitzed the Knights 24-9 in the third quarter to take control of the game and lead 42-25 heading into the fourth quarter. JP Sena scored 18 points in the second half and finished the game a perfect 12-for-12 from the free-throw line. Sena finished with 20 points to lead all scorers. For the game, Española was a sizzling 27-of-30 from the free-throw line.

 

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