Cardinal frontcourt key in stopping Mora

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Tafoya tallies 22; Rangers’ Chavez scores 24

By Dave Kavanaugh

Robertson didn’t need much of an opening, and when the visiting Mora Rangers had a three-and-a-half-minute dry spell early in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals took full advantage.
RHS rolled to a 72-59 win before a strong bipartisan crowd Tuesday night at Mike Marr Gym.

Ryan Tafoya, attacking the rim with bad intentions, led the Cardinals with 22 points, eight of which came in the final period.

Mora’s Lorenzo Chavez scored 10 of his game-high 24 points in the first quarter, which ended in a 17-17 tie.

In truth, most of the game was a toss-up, a back-and-forth affair in which Robertson gained a modest lead primarily because of better accuracy from the floor. The Rangers, dangerous when they have their shooters on a roll, had an off night by their standards from the perimeter. And the Cardinals smartly ran the offense inside whenever possible; that strategy enabled their big men to run the lane.

Still, until the fourth quarter, it was anyone’s game. Robertson led 33-28 at halftime, getting a tip-in putback from Keith Romero to beat the buzzer. The Cards led by as many as seven in the third, but a couple of three-point baskets by Chavez helped the Rangers tie it at 44-44. It was 48-46 at the end of the third.

But Mora didn’t score in the first 3:25 of the final frame, and the home team took advantage, going up 56-46. Amrick Vasquez’s three-ball finally ended Mora’s drought at the 4:35 mark, but Tafoya — playing a little wide receiver now — scored the next six RHS points off lobs from near midcourt. A Joe Mascareñas bucket gave Robertson its largest lead of the night at 70-55.

Mascareñas finished with 13 points for Robertson. Ricardo Martinez and Justin Dimas (11 points apiece) stepped up as well. They provided a spark in the second period, helping the Cards turn a 20-19 deficit into a 31-24 advantage. Those two also joined Tafoya in shouldering the load in the fourth period.

Beating a top 10 Class 2A contender meant a solid win for Robertson and head coach Manuel Romero, whose greatest notoriety came from his successful coaching days in Mora.

Romero led the Rangers to state championships in 1998 and 2005 and coached them until 2010.

Mora and coach James Branch were missing the usual output of leading scorer Cody Najar.

Curtis Vasquez and Jeremiah Olivas combined for 17 points to help Chavez.

Robertson (6-9) now turns its attention to district play, beginning with Saturday’s East-West game; Mora (12-5) plays Clayton on Friday.