Dons get first district victory

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By Dave Kavanaugh

Maybe these Dons are starting to put things together.

Raton’s Derrick Valdez had just swished a three-pointer to cut West Las Vegas’ lead to 44-41 with 20 seconds remaining in Saturday’s District 2-3A boys’ basketball contest at Gillie Lopez Gym.

Four seconds later, Ambrosio Castellano gave West some breathing room. He drew a foul and hit two free throws to make it a two-possession game.

Then Steven Gonzales did his part. Seeing Tiger forward Dustin Walton barreling toward the hoop, the WLV post stood his ground and drew a charge on the subsequent Raton possession.

Castellano could not sink either of the resultant foul shots, but the play burned another five seconds.

Shortly after the West defense came up with a stop, Jordan Lopez sank one of two free throws in the final second to seal a 47-41 win for the home team.

Raton actually dominated the first quarter — on the strength of Walton’s rebounding and Esequiel Trujillo’s shooting. The Tigers led 11-7 after one period and 13-9 following a Justin Silva putback early in the second.

But beginning with a three-shot trip to the foul line by Martin Blea (who made all three freebies), the Dons scored a dozen unanswered points to end the half with a 21-13 advantage.

Twice in the third period, the Tigers cut the margin to a single possession. Both times, Lopez hit a three-point basket. The Dons led 35-27 at the end of the quarter.

Corey Archibeque had a couple of buckets to start the fourth as West went up 39-30. Raton followed that with an 8-0 run before T.J. Esquibel hit a foul shot and Lopez drained another three.

Castellano added another free throw with 46 seconds left to make it 44-38.

Valdez gave Raton one last gasp when he made a three-pointer with 20 seconds left. But the Dons allowed no more Raton scoring.

Lopez finished with 16 points. Blea scored seven;  Gonzales added six. Castellano had five. Archibeque and Chris Chavez had four apiece. Esquibel and Tomas Benavidez completed the WLV scoring with three and two, respectively.

WLV has tougher competition ahead, visiting Pojoaque on Wednesday and hosting St. Michael’s on Friday night at Gillie Lopez Gym.

Raton has struggled this season, losing to smaller schools like Springer and Des Moines and narrowly beating Wagon Mound.

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The No. 1 ranked West Las Vegas Lady Dons improved to 2-0 in district play after throttling Raton on the road by a 50-24 count on Friday night.

The Lady Dons led 28-10 at halftime and 38-16 through three quarters.

West beat Santa Fe Indian 51-40 this past Wednesday in the teams’ district opener.

The team hosts defending state champ Pojoaque Thursday evening, then travels to Santa Fe on Saturday to play St. Michael’s.