Bustos gets a start in win

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By Dave Kavanaugh

Justin Bustos connected on two timely 3-point baskets in his first career start Saturday night, helping New Mexico Highlands outlast Regis 75-73 at the Wilson Complex.

Bustos, who starred at Robertson High, is playing his first season with the Cowboys after redshirting in 2012-13. He’d scored in a couple of previous games for NMHU but made his first start Saturday and logged a season-high 24 minutes.

Bustos scored from long distance to tie the game at 64-64 with 6:50 left. As part of Highlands’ rally from a double-digit deficit, he hit two 3s and assisted Stuart Sullivan on another. The Cowboys stayed close after that and then secured the win, evening their Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference record at 4-4.

Sullivan led all scorers with 31 points on 11-of-15 shooting, including six 3-pointers out of eight attempts. He also grabbed seven rebounds and dished three assists.

Augustus “Augie” French came off the bench to score 12 for NMHU.

Highlands (7-5 overall) outshot Regis 55 percent to 41 percent. The Rangers fell to 4-8 and 1-6.

In a back-and-forth first half, Regis took an eight-point lead, 35-27, on a 3-ball by Spenser Reeb. It was 38-22 Rangers at the half.

Reeb struck again from long range to give Regis its largest lead of the night, 54-42, with 13 and a half minutes remaining. Then Dominick Baca, another native northern New Mexican, answered with his own 3-pointer, and the Cowboys began to chip away at the lead.

With Sullivan and Bustos knocking down shots from beyond the arc, Highlands eventually overtook the visiting Rangers, although it was nip and tuck in the closing minutes.

Regis’ Jon Conley nailed two foul shots with 70 seconds remaining to give his team a 73-70 lead. Then Mannie Cass — who had a quiet night by his recent standards — drew contact and swished two free throws to make it a one-point game.

Regis’ Bryan Siefker launched a 3-pointer on the other end, but it went awry, and the Cowboys came away with the rebound. Sullivan drove for a go-ahead layup and wound up with an old-fashioned three-point play to regain control for Highlands 75-73. Regis’ Jarrett Green missed a potential game-winning 3-ball at the buzzer.

It was an especially proud yet poignant moment for Bustos, who recently lost his mother, the respected longtime teacher and coach Mary Bustos.

“That was for you, mom,” he posted on his Facebook page after the victory.