MORA 74, MCCURDY 48: With each minute, the Rangers (8-3) steadily increased their lead — four points (17-13) after the first period; 14 points (37-23) at the half — before effectively ending the contest with a 27-point lead in the third period. Still, Mora coach James Branch hardly took a break from barking orders and pacing the sidelines shouting: “This is about the big picture.”
And the big picture, he said afterward, is picking up the pieces after a 41-point loss to archrival Pecos last weekend. And the big picture, he added, is also making sure everything on this night was done perfectly, with hopes that it would translate into a better showing against the Panthers.
“You have to take care of the small details like breaking down on the defensive end, closing with your hands up, not allowing dribble penetration,” he said. “When you’re playing a team of the magnitude of Pecos, you have to play a flawless game. That’s the big picture.
Branch later said about last weekend’s 101-60 loss to Pecos: “It’s been a long time since I was drubbed by 41 points, but that’s all right. We came back in these last two games, battled and won decisively — (the Pecos loss) didn’t completely destroy us.
“We’re going in the right direction. Now all we can do is let the chips fall where they may.”
Four players scored in double figures for the Rangers during their wire-to-wire win. Cody Najar and Lorenzo Chavez led the way for Mora with 22 and 17 points, respectively, followed by Amrick Vasquez (14) and Jeremiah Olivas (10).
PECOS 85, ESCALANTE 40: The Lobos opened the game on a 4-2 run — and that concludes Escalante’s highlights. This night was all about the Panthers (10-1).
After Escalante took the early lead, Pecos replied with a 19-3 run to close out the opening period — and things only got progressively worse for the Lobos. In all, the Panthers needed just 20 minutes to dismiss Escalante, engaging the running clock by safely securing a 35-point lead by the midway point of the third quarter.
Ten of 12 Pecos players scored, with four finishing in double figures. Paul CdeBaca led the Panthers with 20 points, followed by Aaron Lujan (14), Darren Herrera (12) and Brandon Quintana (11). Escalante was led by Brandon Gonzales with 12 points.
With the loss, the Lobos will face McCurdy in the third-place game at 5:30 p.m.
MORA 55, MESA VISTA 45: Rangerettes coach Mark Cassidy liked what he saw — from the Lady Trojans (4-5), that is.
But thanks to an inspired third period, Mora (8-1) dodged the proverbial bullet, Cassidy said, to advance to tonight’s title game.
“I give all the credit to Mesa Vista — they brought it tonight,” he said. “They played hard, they were more aggressive and they outworked us. All we had was that spurt in the third quarter, and then we held them off.
“We were just fortunate for that big lead.”
Gerty Herrera scored eight of her game-high 17 points in the decisive third period — a period where Mora outscored Mesa Vista 20-6 to lead by as many as 15 points to take a 42-28 lead into the fourth quarter. Herrera also went 10 for 12 from the foul line, while the rest of the Rangerettes were 3 for 12. With the win, Mora takes on the white-hot Dulce Hawks.
“They are a very good basketball team,” Cassidy said. “You look at their six losses and it’s all against quality teams — upper level 2A teams and 3A schools.
“We’re going to have to move better defensively — we were a step slow tonight. All we had was that five-minute spurt. But if we can play like that for 32 minutes, we’ll be all right.”
DULCE 76, MCCURDY 50: The Hawks continue their impressive run at the NRG tournament. After entering the event with just two wins on the season, the surging Dulce Hawks (4-6) can’t seem to lose.
Their latest victim: the McCurdy Bobcats (6-3).
The Hawks, who led 15-9 after the first period and 30-21 at halftime, broke open the contest late in the third quarter thanks to nine-straight 3-pointers, including four apiece from Alyssa Veneno and Laura Howland. Dulce outscored McCurdy 46-29 in the third and fourth periods. Veneno led the way with 25 points, and Howland finished with 15 points. Korey Dedios was the team’s other high scorer with 19 points. With the loss, the Bobcats will face Mesa Vista in the third-place game at 4 p.m.
IN THE CONSOLATION ROUNDS
PECOS 51, CORONADO 30: Three players scored in double figures to lead the Panthers past the Leopards (5-5) en route to today’s fifth-place game against Escalante, at 1 p.m.
Cassandra CdeBaca paved the way for Pecos (4-7) with 15 points. Teammates Ida Valencia and KeoAnna Trujillo followed with 13 and 12 points, respectively. The Panthers led just 9-8 after the opening period, but opened up their margin to double figures by the fourth period by outscoring the Leopards, 26-15, in the second and third quarters.
ESCALANTE 29, PEÑASCO 21: The Lobos (4-6) may have hit just 4-of-9 free throws down the stretch — and 5 for 10 for the game — but it was plenty enough to advance past the Panthers, who fared even worse at the foul line, hitting just 7-of-24. Mikaela Martinez and Honoria Andrews paced the Lobos with nine points apiece. With the loss, Peñasco (0-11) will face Coronado in the seventh-place game at 10 a.m.
PEÑASCO 66, CORONADO 61 (3 OT): Darren Rodriguez and Joshua Gurule each finished with 21 points to lead the Panthers past the Leopards in triple overtime. Rodriguez scored 14 during the extra periods. With the win, Peñasco will face Dulce in the fifth-place game, at 2:30 p.m. The Leopards were paced by Carlos Madrid and Anthony Salazar with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
DULCE 50, MESA VISTA 33: Darrell Vicenti scored 15 points and Louis Salazar chipped in 13 to lead the Hawks (6-7) in a rout of the Trojans. With the loss, Mesa Vista will continue to seek its first win of the tournament when it takes on Coronado in the seventh place game, at 11:30 a.m.