Sundevils Sting Scorpions, Now 14-0 After 77=60 Victory

by Staff Reporter / Jan 09, 2018 / comments
Española’s Christian Fernandez drives to the basket against Farmington. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Sundevils Sting Scorpions, Now 14-0 After 77=60 Victory

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

The Española Valley High School boys basketball team remains undefeated after a 77-60 win over Farmington High School Jan. 5 at Española. The Sundevils improved to 14-0 on the season.

In what has become a signature pattern to their victories this season, the Sundevils utilized a strong surge in the third quarter and firepower off the bench to take control of the game.

Farmington used a size advantage in the paint by penetrating and then dishing off to either Kobe Shorty or Jacob Brown to take an early lead. Shorty had six points in the first quarter and the Scorpions had a 17-12 lead before Española’s Zach Mascarenas dropped in a three-pointer at the buzzer to make the score 17-15 in favor of Farmington at the end of the first quarter.

Española’s Zach Mascarenas scores against Farmington. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Despite eight more points from Shorty, the Sundevils took the lead in the second quarter. Española went 8-of-9 from the free-throw line. One of those free throws came during an old-fashioned, three-point play by AZ Salazar, who returned to the lineup after sitting out a game due to strep throat.

“It was important to get AZ back into the rhythm,” Española Coach James Branch said. Shorty kept the Scorpions close. His final basket of the first half-and his final basket of the game-made the score 29-25 in favor of the Sundevils.

Española finished the second quarter as they had finished the first quarter. This time, it was Martin Gracia who canned the buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the Sundevils a 35-26 lead at halftime.

Gracia and Mascarenas both come in off the bench for Española.

“Just keep shooting,” Gracia said. “”Do whatever you’ve gotta do to help the team win.”

Despite the lead, Española Coach James Branch was not happy.

“Our defense,” Coach Branch said. “The intensity wasn’t there. We were making 55 (Shorty) look like an All-American. I was pretty upset.”

The Sundevils picked up the pressure in the third quarter and put together a 10-2 run that put them firmly in control of the game with a 45-48 lead. A basket by Gracia upped the lead to 20 points 52-32. Mascarenas ended the third quarter with a three-pointer that gave Española a 55-37 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“Give it your all,” Mascarenas said. “Bust ass on defense and let the game come to me.”

A three-pointer and a basket by Gracia gave the Sundevils their biggest lead of the game 62-39 in the fourth quarter. Eleven different players put points in the scorebook for Española. Steady point guard Ryan Trujillo scored at least two points in every quarter and finished with 15 points.

Española’s Ryan Trujillo passes off to Martin Gracia for a three-pointer against Farmington. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Mascarenas and J. P. Sena each scored 14 points and Gracia finished with 10 points. Española cruised to a 77-60 victory.

“Everybody is trying to slow us down because we’re explosive,” Coach Branch said. “We’re capable of going off. Whatever five get it going, I’m going to go with them. I know everybody will give me effort and energy. I just don’t know who will start scoring.”

Española’s Christian Fernandez shoots for two against Farmington. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Española will face another team that likes to control the tempo when they take on the Belen High School Eagles Tuesda (1/9) in Española. The Eagles are 11-4 on the season and all their losses have come to Class 6A high schools. The Sundevils will return to Rio Rancho High School Saturday to take on the Rams for the second time this season. The Sundevils defeated Rio Rancho 72-54 in the championship game of the Rio Rancho Holiday Hoops Tournament Dec. 29 at Rio Rancho. The Rams are likely itching to even the score.

Sundevils sting Scorpions, now 14-0 after 77=60 victory