Elks down WLV, RHS boys

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By Dave Kavanaugh

Boys’ basketball teams from Robertson and West Las Vegas saw their District 2-3A tournament hopes dashed by the same opponent this week — Pojoaque Valley.

The Elks, veterans of extended postseason runs — including a state championship — in recent seasons, pummeled West Las Vegas 57-44 on Tuesday evening in the opening round. Then they beat Robertson 61-50 on Wednesday, advancing to Thursday’s semifinal at St. Michael’s.

(Thursday’s Pojo-St. Mike’s winner faces the district’s top seed Santa Fe Indian School on Saturday at Francis Abeyta Gym.)

Pojoaque 61, Robertson 50

Robertson’s Justin Bustos tallied 17 points Wednesday and Fabian Varela joined him in double figures as the Cardinals made a number of mini-runs at the Elks’ lead.

But each time the Cards got close, Pojoaque had an answer.

The pattern was set early in the contest. Pojoaque took a 9-3 lead before Bustos drilled a three-pointer to get the visiting Redbirds within a possession. Then Ryan Montoya retaliated with a three-ball for Pojoaque, which held a 16-10 lead after one period.

At the 3:47 mark in the second period, Antonio Arguello completed a hard-fought three-point play to make the margin 21-19.

But led by Robert Ortiz, the Elks responded with a 7-0 run.

RHS reserve David Coca beat the buzzer with a three-point bomb, shrinking Pojoaque’s halftime lead to 28-24.

Bustos swished a three-pointer to get the Cardinals within a single point at 36-35. Another 7-0 Pojoaque run ended the third quarter, however, and the Elks led 43-35.

Luke Salazar got the Elks’ margin to double digits at 47-37 early in the fourth period. Still not done, Robertson again got close thanks to a couple of threes by Fabian Varela, better known for his tireless work in the paint. Varela’s second long bomb made it 49-43.

Once more, the Elks put some distance between themselves and their opponents, and their 11-point final spread was the largest of the night.

Robertson and head coach David Bustos, ranked among the top 10 in Class 3A much of the season and the No. 4 team in a rigorous district, expect to be seeded in the state tournament. Announcements will be forthcoming on Sunday afternoon.

Pojoaque 57, West Las Vegas 44

The previous day, Pojoaque put an end to the West Las Vegas boys’ basketball season with a 57-44 tally.

Except for Jordan Lopez’s hoop to begin the game, Pojoaque stayed in the driver’s seat the entire evening.

After Ryan Aragon bucket that made the score 8-6, the Elks closed the first quarter on a 9-0 run.

Lopez scored on a putback to get the deficit to single digits as the second period got under way, but after Robert Ortiz and Luke Salazar each made field goals, the home team kept its lead in double digits the rest of the way.

Pojoaque led 27-13 at intermission.

Turnovers again tripped up a relatively young West Las Vegas squad.

A string of 14 uninterrupted Elk points gave them a 44-18 cushion before the Dons’ Ambrosio Castellano ended his team’s dry spell with a three-pointer. That began a 7-0 WLV run to end the third quarter.

Pojoaque’s Jan Nakotte and West’s Tomas Benavidez traded three-pointers to open the final period. The Elks led by a comfortable 57-35 before the Dons — getting three-pointers from Chris Chavez and Castellano — finished on a 9-0 surge to make the final score more respectable.

While the Dons are a long shot to be selected for the state tournament, second-year head coach David “Morgan” Montaño has most of his team expected back next season. The roster includes four seniors — Aragon, Benavidez, Castellano and Anthony Madrid.