All of which made the Los Lunas Tigers’ performance Saturday even more astounding.
The Tigers dissected Bloomfield in every possible way in the championship game of the Village of Los Lunas holiday tournament. The 67-31 final was anticlimactic given the participants, and Marty Zeller, coach of Class 5A’s top-ranked Tigers, offered as good a reason for the rout as any.
“We took the spirit out of them,” Zeller said.
The Tigers (11-1), who have won 11 in a row after a season-opening loss to 6A’s No. 2-ranked Las Cruces, dominated the final three quarters against the Bobcats (8-3), who now have lost twice this season to Los Lunas.
This one had a promising start, with the teams tied at 10 after the first quarter, and Bloomfield grabbing an early 13-10 lead in the second quarter.
That was almost literally the last good thing that happened to the Bobcats in the final played at Valencia High School.
Los Lunas embarked on a 12-0 run, with five players contributing buckets in that spurt, including 3-pointers from Amber Trujillo and tournament Most Valuable Player Hayley Torres.
This was symbolic of the entire night, as all nine Tigers who played scored.
Bloomfield, meanwhile, went scoreless for six consecutive minutes in that second quarter.
After that 12-0 run by the Tigers, Bloomfield was only as close as eight points once the rest of the night, two minutes into the third quarter.
“(In the first game), we gave them too much space,” Zeller said. “And they were able to pass and do the things they wanted to do. Tonight, the difference was on-ball pressure.”
Leading 29-21, Los Lunas went on another lengthy run, rattling off 13 straight to put Bloomfield away. Torres buried two 3s to open that run and finished with a team-high 15 points.
The Tigers hit nine 3s, as five players connected from the arc.
“We hit our 3s. That’s what changed,” Torres said, a reference to the teams’ first meeting in Bloomfield, which the Tigers won 54-40 on Nov. 30.
Saturday’s second quarter was a disaster for the Bobcats, who had more turnovers (eight) than points (five). At halftime, Bloomfield had 15 points and 15 turnovers. For the game, the Bobcats had 27 turnovers.
The veteran Tigers hummed along nicely, even though they had some sporadic turnover issues of their own. Their defense hounded Bloomfield, and their passing game led to repeated open looks both inside and from long range.
“It’s just a go-go thing,” Torres said. “Half the time, we’re not even running a play.”
Dani Ross added 13 points and Trujillo 10 for Los Lunas, which has had six players lead the team in scoring this season.
“That’s Los Lunas basketball,” Zeller said. “Nobody can focus on any one player.”
– James Yodice
LOS LUNAS TOURNAMENT: Las Cruces, ranked No. 1 in Class 6A, took down host Valencia 58-40 in the final.
The teams were tied 10-10 after one quarter, and the Jaguars (6-10) briefly led in the second quarter before the Bulldawgs pulled away.
Tournament MVP Markus Collins scored 15 of his game-high 18 points in the second half as Las Cruces (14-0) transformed a 28-22 halftime lead into a 43—30 lead going into the fourth quarter.
“I thought our defense was key,” Las Cruces coach William Benjamin said. “We played zone against them in the second half, and it gave them problems getting their shot off. On offense, we did a better job of being unselfish, getting that extra pass in..”
Valencia was led by all-tournament selection Jacob Mattox, who had 17 points.
– Kenn Rodriguez
ALSO: Bernalillo beat Robertson 71-63 in the Stu Clark Invitational final in Las Vegas, N.M. Luis Villegas had 23 points and Solomon Fragua 18 for the unbeaten Spartans (14-0). … Clovis edged Belen 64-61 in the final of the Wildcats’ tournament.