Talk about your buzz saws.
New Mexico Highlands in its first NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament appearance since 2010, had a short visit.
Host West Texas A&M swept the visitors right out of the arena in Canyon, Texas, early, jumping out to a 22-4 lead six minutes and running off with a 109-95 victory.
“They’re a really good team and they can hurt you from a lot of different spots,” said Cowboys coach Craig Snow. “It took us a while to get our sea legs. It was the worst-case scenario. They were able to get separation. We were focused on trying to get back, but their guards are so good they don’t make turnovers and they don’t make bad decisions.”
Highlands (22-10), which won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament for the first time to earn the national tournament berth, started the game 1-for-13 from the field while the Buffs (32-3) were 7-for-11.
Raquan Mitchell set a career high and had a Cowboys season-best 42 points.
At one point early, he hit three consecutive 3-pointers, pulling Highlands within 22-15. But a foul, then a technical to Jordan Jones — giving him four fouls — after a missed foul shot gave A&M what amounted to six points on one trip down the floor, sparking a 10-0 run from which the Cowboys never recovered.
“It was an eye opener in some respects,” Snow said. “We haven’t been exposed from a quickness standpoint all year. Their guards are quick and strong.”
Senior Gerad Davis, RMAC MVP, ended up scoring 14 points before fouling out.
Sophomore Desmond Carpenter had 16 points and seven rebounds, Adrian LaFleur had 11 points and Nnamdi(CQ) Okoro finished his NMHU career with a double-double — 10 points and 11 rebounds. Local product D.J. Bustos of West Las Vegas High School, missed his only shot from the field, but finished with two points after making both of his foul shots. He also had three rebounds in 29 minutes.
While the end of the season came with a thump, it was still a notable campaign as the Cowboys set a program record for wins in addition to their first RMAC title.
In addition, the returning players now know what it’s like to go outside the region and face a nationally ranked squad.
“It gives you something to shoot for,” Snow said. “We’re able to recruit four year guys and I think we’re ready to make the next step, which is the biggest step for us. We’ve seen what’s successful against RMAC schools, now we know what’s successful in regional tournaments.”
GRANTS 8, SANTA FE 0; GRANTS 10, SANTA FE 1, 5 innings
The Demons (2-4) were unable to get their bats going in a doubleheader sweep at the hands of the host Pirates. In the opener, Santa Fe could only scrape together singles from Dominic Arellano and Alan Schmitt, as well as three walks. In the nightcap, the Demons got off to a 1-0 lead in the top of the third as Christofer Graham came around to score after a single. Adrian Ortega and Gabriel Alarcon also had singles in the game.
Other baseball scores from Thursday: Los Alamos 3, Bloomfield 0.
ROBERTSON 15, EAST MOUNTAIN 0, 3 innings; ROBERTSON 19, EAST MOUNTAIN 2, 4 innings
The host Cardinals (2-3) struck quickly in the opener, putting up nine runs in the first innings then followed that with four in the third to finish the game under the mercy rule.
In the nightcap, Robertson already led 11-0 before scoring eight in the fourth to put the game away.
KIRTLAND CENTRAL 16, LOS ALAMOS 5, 6 innings
Although the Hilltoppers (2-2) only managed six hits, they were able to parlay that into five runs. But pitchers Katie Wimer and Savana Luster struggled to hold the host Broncos at bay. Halle Warwick drove in two runs for Los Alamos and Alicia Gonzales scored twice.
Another score from Thursday: Española Valley 14, Navajo Prep 2.
WEST LAS VEGAS 8, LOS ALAMOS 7
The host Dons (3-0) scored four runs over the final two innings to pull out comeback victory. The Hilltoppers (2-1), belted out 15 hits with Janessa Gonzales, Savana Luster and Alicia Gonzales each getting three. Janessa Gonzales had three RBI and Alicia Gonzales had two doubles.
HOCKEY: Earlier this month, the Los Alamos club team won the championship of the Rio Grande Hockey League, beating Taos 5-3 in the semifinals, then Amarillo 3-2 in the championship game.
SCHOLARSHIPS: Escalante’s Randy Ferrell received a $1,500 “Compete with Class” scholarship from the New Mexico Activities Association foundation during this week’s state basketball championships. The scholarship goes to student-athletes who exemplify the ideals of sportsmanship and the Compete with Class initiative.
THINGS TO SEE OR DO
GOLF: Children interested in learning the fundamentals should consider the spring break camp at the Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe on Monday through Friday. Children of all skill levels are welcome and the camo includes learning golf course rules and etiquette, fundamentals, instruction on putting, chipping and full swing, how to read a putting green, on-course practice and play. For more information call 955-4400 or email email@example.com.
HOOPS: The Northern New Mexico College men’s team is holding an open tryout March 29 at the school’s gym from 2-5 p.m. Potential players need not be current NNMC students and may still be in high school. For more information contact associate head coach Gabriel Martinez at 328-2284.
SKIING: With season snowfall totals in the triple digits and still more snow in the forecast, Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort and Pajarito Mountain Ski Area are both expanding their hours of operation and length of season. Sipapu will now run lifts from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will remain open daily through March 24, with the weekend scheduled extended to April 7. Parajito’s lift will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with daily skiing through March 24 and on weekends through April 7.