CLAYTON – Braden Vaughan scored a career-high 38 points and Texico sealed its first trip to the state tournament in three years with solid free-throw shooting down the stretch in an 84-71 win over Questa on Friday in the semifinals of the Class 2A Region A boys basketball tournament.
Texico (22-6) plays District 6-2A rival Clayton in today’s regional championship game.
Both teams have already qualified for next week’s state tournament.
Clayton beat Mora 55-51 in the second semifinal.
Vaughan fell two points short of the school record of 40 set by Kenny Shaw in the early 1990s, but it was enough to offset a 33-point effort by Questa’s Justin Martinez.
Vaughan, a sturdy 6-foot-2 junior, scored often on layups after Texico beat Questa’s press, and on offensive rebounds.
Texico coach Rich Luscombe said the District 8-2A champion Wildcats (22-5) were even quicker than he imagined.
"We did a good job of handling their pressure," Luscombe said. "And Braden was in the right spot at the end of break."
Garett Mayfield added a season-high 14 points for the Wolverines, who will return to the state tournament for the first time since winning the 2A title in 2001.
Robert Trujillo scored 10 of his 15 points in the second quarter as Questa shaved an early Texico lead to 36-33.
The Wolverines, who survived early foul trouble with the help of a strong floor game by junior Josh Pena, stretched their lead to as many as 16 points in the third quarter. Questa drew as close as seven points, but Texico made 15-of-24 free throws in the fourth quarter.
"We lost a game at the free-throw line the other night. But we were able to hold onto the lead tonight because of the way we shot free throws," Luscombe said.
Clayton beat Texico twice in three meetings this season, including 58-55 overtime win in the championship game of the 6-2A tournament.
Grady girls advance to finals
GRADY – Aerial Verble came up with her best game of the season at the right time.
Verble helped pick up the scoring slack with 12 points and Jennifer Blackbun added 11 as Grady beat Roy 53-41on Friday in the semifinals of the girls Class 1A Region A tournament.
Grady (25-3) plays two-time defending state champion Des Moines at 2 p.m. today in the championship game.
Des Moines (25-1) has beaten Grady twice this season.
Taris Pond added 10 points for Grady, which jumped out to a 20-8 first-quarter lead.
Stacy Costa led Roy (18-10) with 10 points.
Vixens cruise, meet Elida
SANTA FE — Junior Sandy Fortner scored 26 points and Fort Sumner hardly worked up a sweat in rolling over outmanned Albuquerque Victory Christian 90-10 in a Class 1A Region B girls semifinal.
Fort Sumner (24-4) assured itself of a trip to next week's state tournament in Albuquerque, and advanced to tonight's 6 p.m. regional finals against District 3-1A rival Elida, which got past host Desert Academy 48-27.
Junior Leslie Wood added 16 points and freshman Laurel Herrera chipped in 14 for the Vixens, who held a 36-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.