ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The potential for an upset was there, as Hope Christian coach Jim Murphy could well see.
When the Class 3A boys basketball state quarterfinals began Wednesday at the Santa Ana Star Center, ninth-seeded Santa Fe Indian School had the crowd and, early in the second quarter, the lead against the top-ranked Huskies.
But Hope Christian (26-3) took the wind out of the sails of the Braves in a minute and cruised to an 84-50 victory in Rio Rancho.
“I think we weathered the storm,” Murphy said. “Seeds, that means nothing. But we are the number one seed and people are going to be rooting against us.”
The Hope coach’s son played a key role in stopping the early momentum for SFIS (16-14), which upset eighth-seeded Lovington on the road last week.
Junior Matt Murphy scored a game-high 24 points and had already accumulated 10 when he hit a basket to put the Huskies up 21-20 with 6:29 left before halftime. That field goal was part of an 18-2 run that made a one-time 20-17 Braves’ lead a distant memory.
Hope will take on rival Sandia Prep (20-8) in a semifinal Friday. The Sundevils led most of the way in defeating West Las Vegas (16-15) 56-48.
The victorious Sundevils were led by Kody Salcido’s 22 points. Michael Eaton added 11. West Las Vegas, paced by Adrian Rivera’s 23, trailed by five at halftime before Salcido’s efforts helped double the margin by the end of the third quarter.
“I just wanted us to get a lead in the third quarter, so we could cruise,” said Salcido, who scored 10 of his team’s 15 in that period.
“This is our third trip ever (to the final four) and second in a row,” Sandia Prep coach Willie Owens said. “Believe me, we’re excited to be there — especially with only two seniors on the team.”
The other semifinal will match the second and third seeds, as both St. Michael’s and Portales emerged victorious.
St. Michael’s (22-7) knocked out defending state champ Pojoaque 56-54. Senior Jordan Romero scored 25 points as the second-seeded Horsemen overtook the Elks at the end of the third period.
Pojoaque (19-11) led 33-32 when two free throws by St. Michael’s David Gonzalez were followed by a basket by Romero for a five-point lead entering the fourth. The Elks, paced by Benjamin Roybal’s 15 point, cut into that margin only when Justin Trujillo banked in a 3-pointer with two seconds left.
Portales (21-8), the third-seed, also cruised into the semifinal round with an 85-59 rout of Socorro (15-14). The Rams, led by Nick Bliss’ 26 points, raced to an 18-2 start against the Warriors.
Socorro, paced by Zach Esquibel’s 19 points, which included five 3-pointers, was able to trim the early deficit to seven in the second quarter.
The game was a rematch of a regular season encounter won by Portales 60-34.
“We didn’t come ready to play and Portales handed it to us. I guess this team (the Rams) was psychologically in our heads and we couldn’t handle it,” Socorro coach Hamilton Doyle said.