Texico boys make way into 2A quarterfinals
March 8, 2020
TEXICO — The Texico boys basketball team saved what may have been its best performance of the season for its last home game of the season.
Playing sharp in the first half and looking poised in a suddenly iffy fourth quarter, the seventh-seeded Wolverines held off 10th-seeded Navajo Pine to win their state 2A first-round playoff game 64-54 Saturday afternoon at Texico Sports Arena.
The Wolverines broke loose after a back-and-forth first quarter to gain some nice separation by halftime, separated some more in the third quarter, then withstood a fourth-quarter Navajo Pine charge that shaved the difference to seven.
The Wolverines (16-9) earned the right to move on and play a quarterfinal this Wednesday morning (11:30 a.m.) at Rio Rancho’s Santa Ana Star Center against the Magdalena/McCurdy winner, determined after press time Saturday night.
Texico is in that last eight, winning a spot by beating a scrappy and determined opponent.
“Oh, it’s really exciting,” Wolverines junior guard Anders Nelson said after scoring a game-high 18 points Saturday. “I got to go there last year as an underclassman; going as an upperclassman now, it’s really exciting to get to go there again.”
“I’m very excited. Why wouldn’t you be?” senior guard Luke Phipps said after adding 16 points to Texico’s cause. “Winning games, doing what you have to do to get there is always fun.”
“Oh, I’m thrilled,” said Craig Cook, whose first season as Wolverines head coach is gradually winding down. “Navajo Pine is a tough team; we’ve seen them, watched some film and we’ve watched them in their district play. ... I told these (Texico) guys, ‘Man, these (Navajo Pine) guys are going to know how to battle, they’re going to know how to play.”
It was a back-and-forth, run-and-gun contest throughout the first quarter that included 10 lead changes, with the Wolverines bringing about the last one on a Nelson trey that gave them a 17-15 edge by quarter’s end.
Jahvon Askew hit a putback to begin the second-quarter scoring while kick-starting an 11-1 Texico run that had the green and white ahead 28-16 roughly midway through the period.
A Michael Marshall one-hander finally ended Navajo Pine’s drought, but was quickly followed on the other end by a left-corner three from David Davalos, who was so wide open that he had time to take a set shot. Davalos’ basket made it 31-18, and the Wolverines led 34-23 at the break.
It was 47-33 by the end of the third quarter, 50-33 when Nelson began the fourth with a left-arc trey. But Navajo Pine had a run left, and closed to within 54-47 around the 3 1/2-minute mark, then 57-50 with less than two minutes to go.
Phipps, though, flipped in an off-balance jumper with 1:20 remaining, and with 42 seconds left, Cade Collins went 2-of-3 from the foul line to build a fairly secure 61-50 lead for the Wolverines.
“It’s happened before; we’ve had quite a few close games,” Phipps said. “We just get practice over time. It’s something that you learn (how to deal with).”