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Texico triumphs again

Win over Fort Sumner makes it four straight EPAC titles, eight in 10 years

 

January 16, 2019

Kevin Wilson

Texico guard Luke Phipps drives the lane against Fort Sumner's Jude Segura in Saturday's Eastern Plains Athletic Conference title game.

PORTALES — The Texico boys basketball team entered Saturday night’s EPAC Tournament championship game at Greyhound Arena knowing history was within reach.

Early in the second quarter, though, history seemed like it might just elude the Wolverines’ grasp.

They were playing for a fourth straight EPAC title — something the boys program had never achieved before — but trailed a hot-shooting Fort Sumner team by 12 in the second period. Texico, though, remained steady and took firm hold of history by rallying to win 64-55.

A fourth straight crown was the Wolverines’ to savor.

“It’s awesome. That was our goal,” Texico senior guard Dalton Thatcher said after pouring in a game-high 28 points. “We talked about it since right before we played our first (tournament) game against Grady, said that we were not going to lose, we were going to win four in a row, make it happen.”

“It’s something that we planned on doing. We never had a doubt in our minds that we were going to make it,” Wolverines senior swingman Skyler Davis said after scoring 20 points. “We’re very proud. I’m proud of my team and how we performed.”

“It’s an honor to be EPAC champions with so many teams preparing the first half of the season for this as a stepping stone to the state tournament,” Texico head coach Ty Thatcher said. “It’s always exciting to win, but it tends to be a little bit more exciting when you know you’ve beaten several teams and worked your way through the bracket.”

Fort Sumner head coach Brad Holland was impressed with the Wolverines’ comeback victory.

“They’re just solid, they’re consistent on both ends, patient offensively,” Holland said. “That’s a good basketball team.”

Yet it looked early on like Holland’s team might be the first other than Texico since 2015 to hoist the EPAC trophy.

A game that began at a lightning-quick offensive pace saw Fort Sumner quickly gain separation and go up 15-9, then 18-9 after a Cody Terrell trey. Though Texico closed to within 18-14, the Foxes went on an 8-0 run that spilled over into the second quarter — including treys by Noah Maxwell and Terrell sandwiched around an off-balance driving shot by Jude Segura — to make it a 26-14 game.

Four in a row was slipping away. But the Wolverines wouldn’t allow it.

“We just had to put our heads down and fight,” Dalton Thatcher said. “It was going to be tougher, we got ourselves in a hole. But we knew we could come back, we have the team to come back, and we just fought every minute of that whole game.”

“We put ourselves in some trouble,” Davis said, “but I believed in our team, I knew we could fight back and overcome our troubles.”

“The good thing about this group is that we’ve been working on not having to have every single thing reiterated to them,” Ty Thatcher said. “They seem to understand the game of runs and the ability to make runs and get back in games and extend leads.”

It was then Texico’s turn to go on a run by scoring the next seven straight — with four coming from Thatcher and three from Gabriel Bailey — to close within 26-21. And after a three by Maxwell, Thatcher scored six straight to draw the Wolverines within two, 29-27.

Kane Burney answered right back with a trey to make it 32-27, but an off-dribble right-elbow three from Thatcher cut the difference to two late in the second quarter. And with 9.2 seconds to go in the half, Thatcher buried a pair of free throws, giving him 15 of the Wolverines’ 18 in the quarter while sending the teams into the break tied at 32.

A Davis putback swirled in to open the third-quarter scoring and give Texico its first lead since early in the game, and after a Segura jumper tied it again, Davis made good on Texico’s ensuing possession by nailing a three and handing the Wolves a 37-34 advantage.

As it turned out, Davis had given Texico the lead for good.

A Cole Rohrbach foul shot and another Thatcher trey stretched the Wolverines’ advantage to seven. Four straight Fort Sumner points dragged the Foxes within three, 41-38, and later in the period they were that close again, this time within 43-40.

But yet another Thatcher three made it a 46-40 game, the start of an 8-0 run that gave the Wolves a little separation. Fort Sumner climbed within 53-49, but could get no closer. Davis completed a three-point play from the line to make the difference seven again, and it was never less than five the rest of the way.

Texico stayed poised and soon tucked away the victory. The Wolverines were again EPAC champions, they had indeed made history for the program.

“They know how to win,” Ty Thatcher said. “That’s great for that group of 10 guys.”

But it was soon time to move on, forge back into the schedule, keep eyes and minds focused on district play and the state tournament. Taking care of EPAC should help the drive toward more goals, more titles.

“I think any win that you get, any championship that you win, motivates the team, gives them that confidence that they need to move forward, work harder in practice,” Ty Thatcher said, “and put themselves in position to be successful at the end of the year.”

Melrose 56, Logan 45 (third-place) — It could be considered an achievement for a young, fourth-seeded Buffaloes team to reach the EPAC semifinals. And perhaps even more of one to play back and take third place by winning Saturday’s game by nine.

It was close by the first quarter’s end, with Melrose up 10-8. But the Buffs dominated the second quarter, outscoring Logan 19-4 in that frame, to take control by halftime.

Tate Sorgen led Melrose with 14 points, tying Logan’s Kyle Knight for the game-high. Adrian Gonzales chipped in with 10 points for Melrose.

Chase Earle added 10 points for the Longhorns.

 
 

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