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Birds shake Snakes, climb to 12-2

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By Dave Kavanaugh

Justin Bustos swished three baskets from three-point range — two in the opening quarter —  and went on to score a game-high 24 points Saturday night as Robertson won big over Tucumcari, 80-57.

The Cardinals (12-2) have a full week to prepare for another pre-district tuneup. They play at Taos on Saturday, Jan. 9, then visit Socorro Jan. 12.

At times, particularly early in Saturday’s game, Robertson had trouble matching the energy of the Rattlers. Tucumcari had not played since Dec. 18, whereas RHS was coming off a three-day run to the Stu Clark Tournament championship Dec. 28-30.

Behind scores by Henry Martinez and Travis Garcia, the Rattlers led twice in the first period, including an 8-7 edge three minutes in.

Then the Cardinals scored 14 consecutive points, with Bustos accounting for six and R.J. McNellis also hitting from the perimeter as well as inside the paint.

Tucumcari forward Alex Hutchins broke the run with a three-pointer, but Clint Brayfield completed a three-point play of the old-fashioned variety with one second left in the quarter to make the margin 24-11.

Jakus Martinez knocked down an outside shot as Tucumari rallied in the second quarter and twice got within seven points (at 27-20 and again at 31-24). Robertson’s Fabian Varela sank two free throws three seconds before halftime to put the Cardinals ahead 37-26.

The Rattlers stayed within 10 or 11 points of their hosts most of the third period, and a putback by Tucumcari’s Shawn Martinez made it 45-36.

Once again, however, the Cardinals ended the period with a flourish. Varela scored on consecutive possessions, and then Larry Romero’s layup made it 51-36 before the quarter drew to a close.

As has increasingly become habit for the Cards, they finished strong.

Following a putback by Garcia that made the margin 57-46, Brayfield scored to begin a 9-0 Robertson run; Bustos scored the next seven points in the run, the last on a bucket off a Josh Brito assist to make it a 20-point spread at 66-46.

Moments later, an Antonio Arguello steal led to a Mike Martinez basket and the Cardinals’ largest lead of the night — 70-47.

Garcia nailed back-to-back treys to make the final margin more respectable.

Note: The Robertson girls’ team lost 69-53 on Saturday at Socorro.