McCurdy Picks Up Wins Over Mesa Vista, Escalante

by Staff Reporter / Jan 16, 2018 / 0 comments
McCurdy’s Kemmer Croff heads to the basket against Mesa Vista. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

McCurdy Picks Up Wins Over Mesa Vista, Escalante

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

The McCurdy Charter School boys basketball team takes some time off this week before returning to the court Jan. 23 when they host the Peñasco High School Panthers. The Bobcats picked up two victories last week and are now 11-6 on the season.

McCurdy defeated Mesa Vista High School 66-60 Jan. 12 in Ojo Caliente. The Bobcats beat Escalante High School 65-43 Jan. 13 in Espanola. Despite the two victories, McCurdy is ranked just 10th in the MaxPreps statewide poll for Class 3A.

McCurdy’s Jacob Martinez looks for a teammate to pass to against Mesa Vista. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

The win over Mesa Vista saw McCurdy do just enough to hang on to victory after nearly blowing a 12-point lead with two minutes left in the game. After two free throws by Josh Esquibel put McCurdy ahead 64-52, Mesa Vista went to a full-court 1-2-2 press that forced turnover after turnover by the Bobcats. Xavier Varela canned a pair of free throws for the Trojans, then after a turnover scored again from the floor. Another turnover led to a basket by Damian Trujillo. McCurdy turned the ball over again and Varela scored to make the score 64-60 with less than 40 seconds left in the game after an 8-0 run by the Trojans.

The Bobcats were not done turning the ball over and once again Mesa Vista had the ball. This time, the Trojans could make it a one possession game with a score. It was the Trojans bad luck to return the favor and Mesa Vista threw the ball right into the hands of McCurdy’s Kemmer Croff. Croff passed under the Trojans basket to a wide-open Raul Arroyo, who sank an easy layup to make the score 66-60 with time running out on the Trojans. Mesa Vista couldn’t score again and McCurdy held on for the win.

“We were saving that 1-2-2 press,” Mesa Vista Coach Benito Maestas said. “It seems to work for us. We didn’t stop fighting.”

McCurdy had taken the lead at the end of the first quarter after a long three-pointer by Croff had given the Bobcats a 13-10 lead. McCurdy got hot from the perimeter in the second quarter and sank four three-pointers, including a buzzer-beater by Ernesto Martinez that gave the Bobcats a 39-28 lead at halftime.

The Bobcats finished the third quarter with a 7-0 run after Mesa Vista had cut McCurdy’s lead to nine points 48-39 after a free throw by Frankie Ortiz. Croff nailed another three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Bobcats a 55-39 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Bobcats used a big lineup of Croff, Ubaldo Barela and Jacob Martinez to dominate inside against the Trojans, who don’t have a player over 5-feet, 10 inches. Martinez and Barela both fouled out in the fourth quarter before Mesa Vista made their run that nearly turned the tables on McCurdy.

McCurdy’s Ubaldo Barela goes up for a shot against Mesa Vista. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

“Mentally, I think they thought the game was over,” McCurdy Coach Ernesto Espinoza said. “We got the win on the road and we’re ready to go home.”

At home the following day against Escalante, the Bobcats once again used a decided height advantage to take control of the game. McCurdy took a 10-point lead 15-5 in the first quarter, getting 10 of those points from the trio of Croff, Barela and Jacob Martinez.

Escalante rallied in the second quarter, getting 11 points from Justin Garcia and slicing McCurdy’s lead in half, trailing 25-20 at halftime.

“The first half we were able to work inside,” McCurdy Coach Ernesto Espinoza said. “We had Ubaldo at the high post and Jacob at the low post. We told the team that they needed to be ready for this game.”

McCurdy started to pull away in the third quarter. The Bobcats got eight points from Barela and six from Croff. McCurdy held the Lobos to 10 points and led 43-30 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Bobcats put the Lobos away in the fourth quarter, scoring 22 points to just 13 for Escalante. Croff scored nine points and Ernesto Martinez added eight points in the fourth quarter. Only five players put points in the scorebook for the Bobcats, who do not have a senior on their roster. Barela finished with 21 points. Croff added 18 points and Ernesto Martinez scored 13 points for McCurdy.

Garcia had 17 points for the Lobos and Anthony Ulibarri scored 16 points for Escalante.

The Bobcats compete in District 2-3A and currently are the top-ranked team in that district despite being ranked just 10th in the state. There is a definite possibility that only the district champion from District 2-3A will be selected as one of 16 teams that advance to the Class 3A state basketball tournament.

Of those 16 teams, the top eight get to host a home game in the opening round of the state tournament.

“The goal this season is to win the district,” McCurdy Coach Ernesto Espinoza said. “We want to be home for the district tournament championship and for the opening round of state.”