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State tourney opens with overtime drama

With the season on the line, Sandia Prep’s boys basketball team sought out a familiar face.

Not once, but twice.

Sam Henderson nailed a 3-pointer with 1:14 left in overtime that tied the game, and his reverse layup with 32 seconds remaining in OT was the game-winner, as the fourth-seeded Sundevils edged No. 5 St. Michael’s 43-42 on Monday night in the Class 3A state quarterfinals at Sandia Prep.

“Our go-to guy,” Sandia Prep coach Marcos Rivera said. “Get the ball to your best player. He’s been our best player for three years now.”

St. Michael’s Devin Flores front-rimmed a 3-pointer with 1 second left in OT for the Horsemen (7-3).

“I’m in my fourth year here,” Rivera said, “and I’ve never had an easy quarterfinal game.”

The victory sends Sandia Prep (10-1) to No. 1 Robertson (13-0) in Wednesday night’s semifinals.

“I’m super excited. I know everyone (on our team) is super excited,” said the 6-foot-7 Henderson, a senior wing who finished with 19 points. “We’re gonna be ready.”

Monday’s quarterfinal was alternately choppy and sloppy, and extremely physical.

To that end, Sandia Prep had three more turnovers (12) than points in the first half, as St. Mike’s led 15-9 at the break.

“That was our worst half of the season,” Henderson said.

The Horsemen led 21-14 with 5:48 left in the third quarter, but made only one field goal over the next eight minutes. Sandia Prep, in the interim, went on a 16-3 run and led 30-24 with six minutes to go.

The Sundevils still led 34-28 with under two minutes left before the Horsemen rallied to lead 35-34 with 28 seconds left. Henderson made one out of two free throws with 12.6 seconds to go and the game went to overtime after St. Mike’s was unable to get off a decent shot at the end.

The Horsemen scored four quick points in OT, but a pair of 3s – the first one by starter Nick Chavez, his only points of the night, the second by Henderson – saved Sandia Prep.

“He gave me a little space, and I knew we needed a 3,” said Henderson, whose shot tied the game at 41. “I thought it was the best shot we had to tie the game up.”

Adam Montoya for St. Michael’s made a free throw with 47.8 seconds to go in OT for a 42-41 Horsemen lead.

ALSO MONDAY: No. 5 Sandia Prep’s girls fell 47-24 at No. 4 Hatch Valley in the 3A quarters. In Class 1A, No. 6 Evangel Christian/Oak Grove Classical Academy lost 78-69 to No. 3 Elida (boys) and the eighth-seeded girls were beaten 51-12 by No. 1 Roy/Mosquero.

COVID IMPACT: In addition to Carlsbad’s boys, Pine Hill’s eighth-seeded boys (1A) and Escalante’s fourth-seeded girls (2A) forfeited out of the tournament due to COVID-related issues.

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