The top-seeded Wolverines (29-0) moved to within one win of an undefeated season Thursday with a 53-39 victory over Santa Rosa in a Class 3A semifinal at the Santa Ana Star Center. Senior post Nathan Phipps was the man of the hour for Texico, racking up 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Next up is a 10 a.m. Saturday final at the Pit against the winner of Thursday’s late Estancia-Pecos semifinal.
Texico stayed perfect against the district-rival Lions (19-10), defeating them for the fourth time this season. But they’ve generally avoided talking about completing the elusive unbeaten season.
“We have a lot of baseball players on the team,” Texico coach Ty Thatcher said. “They tend to be superstitious about those things.”
Phipps, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound center who looks like he’d be comfortable on lining up as a football defensive end, instead counts himself among the baseball players. The first baseman certainly made himself at home in the paint Thursday.
“He was a man among boys tonight,” Santa Rosa coach Frank Ortiz said of Phipps. “We had no way to stop him.”
Santa Rosa did enough to stay close for most of three quarters, forcing 17 turnovers with hustling, trapping defense. Texico led just 30-25 with 3:30 left in the third.
But when the Wolverines needed a basket, they dumped the ball inside to Phipps, who either scored, drew a foul or kicked the ball out to one of Texico’s perimeter shooters. The Wolverines pushed the lead to 37-25 after three quarters and were able to maintain it through the fourth.
Dalton Thatcher finished with 11 points, while Skyler Davis and Ben Crist each went 2-for-3 from 3-point range for Texico. Martin Madrid paced the Lions with 10 points.
— Ken Sickenger
SANTA ROSA (19-10): Stephen Sanchez 3, Emilio Apodaca 0, Ethan Esquibel 0, Darren Chavez 1, Martin Madrid 10, Korey Padilla 0, Shawn Agar 2, Daniel Esquibel 7, Joaquin Romero 4, Christian Chavez 6, Seth Cordova 0, Cody Schattshneider 4, Shiv Patel 0. Totals: 18-50 FG, 2-8 FT 39.
TEXICO (29-0): Skyler Davis 8, Cayd Billbrey 0, Ben Crist 8, Dalton Thatcher 11, Luke Phipps 4, Cole Rohrbach 0, Nathan Phipps 21, Paden McDermid 1. Totals: 16-32 FG, 16-22 FT 53.
Santa Rosa 10 10 5 14 —39
Texico 13 12 12 16 —53
3-Point FGs: SR 5-17 (Sanchez 0-3, Madrid 2-3, Padilla 0-1, Esquibel 1-3, Romo 0-3, Chavez 2-4), T 5-9 (Davis 2-3, Crist 2-3, Thatcher 1-1, L Phipps 0-2). Rebounds: SR 22 (Romo 6), T 36 (N Phipps 12). Assists: SR 6 (Sanchez 3), T 7 (N Phipps 3). Team fouls: SR 19, T 14. Fouled out: SR Schattshneider.