Manzano missed some free throws early in the fourth quarter but made them when they mattered the most.
The Monarchs (4-2) went 6-for-6 from the line over the final 56 seconds in sealing a 50-45 win over Hope Christian in the Joe Armijo Classic boys basketball championship game Saturday night at Albuquerque Academy.
“We had to hold on, and Hope is going to keep coming at you,” said Manzano head coach Dominick Romero. “(Hope) is so well coached, disciplined and resilient, but that’s what we’re striving for. … We knew they were going to make a run, but we made big free throws, and it was 32 minutes of great defense by the boys. The defensive effort was as solid as it’s ever been.”
Manzano senior Tyler Allen hit two free throws with 56 seconds left stretching his club’s lead to 46-40, but the Huskies’ Grant Ulibarri answered with a drive to the basket that led to a traditional three-point play to cut the six-point lead in half.
On the ensuing Manzano possession, Hope Christian guard Isaiah Dockery made a steal near midcourt. The Huskies missed a layup but retained possession when the ball was knocked out of bounds.
A set play led to Sean Martinez’s open three in the left corner. The tying attempt fell just short as Manzano’s Roman Romero secured the rebound.
Romero was immediately fouled, and he made two free throws with 11.1 seconds left to give his club a five-point lead.
“We did a great job coming back and hitting some shots,” said Hope Christian Academy coach Jim Murphy. “The first half we were as cold as could be. Credit to Manzano. They had a good game plan, and we just fell short tonight.”
The Monarchs used the transition game to open a 27-15 lead at the half.
After the Huskies’ Collin Evans drove for a layup on the opening possession of the second quarter drawing his team to 8-6, Manzano put together a 17-5 spurt creating a 14-point bulge.
Manzano reserve Tyler Allen, who finished with a game-high 16 points, had a pair of layups, and forward Jack Blankenship hit two shots from short range.
Down by 13 early in the third, Hope used a 11-2 run to get back into the game.
“We used a tournament like this last year when we won the Belen tournament to springboard us and give us some confidence,” Romero said. “We’re still a long way from peaking, but man, that was exciting tonight.”
Dockery led Hope Christian Academy (2-4) with 13 points.
MANZANO 50, HOPE CHRISTIAN 45
HOPE CHRISTIAN ACADEMY (2-4): Isaiah Dockery 13, Johnny Nitafan 12, Grant Ulibarri 6, Zac Melton 6, Dru Ulibbari 4, Jaden Spencer 2, Collin Evans 2. Totals: 20-FG, 3-7-FT 45
MANZANO (4-2): Tyler Allen 16, Jack Blackenship 11, James Sandoval 8, Dakota Powell 7, Roman Romero 6, Spenser Kalivoda 2. Totals: 18-FG, 13-19-FT 50
Hope Christian 4 11 15 15—45
Manzano 8 19 11 12—50
Three-point field goals: HC 2 (G. Ulibarri, Nitafan); M 1 (Sandoval). Team fouls: HC 19, M 14. Fouled out: HC Melton. Technical fouls: HC Evans, M Blankenship.