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WEEKEND ROUNDUP: Lady Dons make Ben Lujan final

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By The Staff

In a battle of unbeatens, Saturday night’s main event saw defending state champion Pojoaque Valley (10-0) assert its dominance over West Las Vegas (7-1).

The 63-35 romp by the Elkettes came in the final of their own Ben Lujan Invitational, an early showdown between district rivals.

For a while, it appeared the upstart Lady Dons had a great shot at the upset. The game was knotted up at 17 and even after a Pojoaque run late in the second quarter, the margin was a manageable 27-21.

But a slow start to the third for West, combined with the steady onslaught of the Elkettes’ balanced, experienced lineup, led to a 44-29 spread after three periods.

And there was no let-up from Pojoaque in the final quarter, either.

Dons seventh in Capital tourney

After back-to-back losses in Capital High’s Al Armendariz Classic, West Las Vegas boys’ basketball coach Morgan Montaño was concerned about the mental state of the Dons and was anxious to see what their reaction would be as they played Valencia in the seventh-place game Saturday.

If a 75-53 win is any answer, then Montaño need not worry about his team’s state of mind.

Senior captain Adrian Rivera scored a game-high 30 points in three quarters of work before leaving the game with a twisted ankle. According to Montaño, Rivera is fine, but with the margin the Dons were leading by, he kept Rivera out for precautionary reasons. Rivera scored eight of the team’s 15 first-quarter points and 21 of the team’s 34 first-half points as the Dons built a 34-22 lead at intermission.

The Dons’ full-court pressure kept the Jaguars off balance, forcing 13 turnovers in the first half. The Dons continued to apply pressure throughout the third quarter. West took its biggest lead, 49-30, on a Jacob Knezevich basket, and quarter-ending points by Knezevich and Josh Brito gave the Dons a 53-34 lead.

Brito’s three-point basket at the start of the final period and Tomas Benavidez’s two free throws increased the Dons lead to 58-34. West started the fourth period on a 11-4 run.

Along with Rivera’s 30-point performance, Benavidez scored seven points. Ambrosio Castellano added six, while Derek Gold accounted for five points and Anthony Madrid added four points. Jonathan Martinez scored three points and eight rebounds. Fabian Varela grabbed seven boards.

The Dons (3-5) will travel to Cuba Saturday and then will play Portales in the opening round of the Stu Clark Tournament next Monday.

Cardinals top Ruidoso in wild one

As with its recent win over Mora, the Robertson boys’ basketball team found the push it needed in the closing minutes Saturday, defeating Ruidoso 63-57 at Mike Marr Gym.

It was a topsy-turvy game in more ways than one as both teams struggled to hang on to the ball and to the lead.

Keith Brower put Ruidoso up 8-4, but Robertson took control late in the first period. Justin Bustos’ putback on a fast break, followed shortly thereafter by a Robert Ross Romero three-pointer at the buzzer, made it 18-13. The Cardinal run continued into the second quarter, and the home boys led 27-17 at the 3:43 mark.

Then Ruidoso came back, outscoring the Cardinals 13-3 the rest of the half. Andrew Gilliland scored eight points in the sequence, and the game was tied 30-30 at the half.

Five Robertson players scored in the third period and Larry Romero drilled a buzzer-beating three to give the home team a 47-36 lead.

Gilliland and Mario Varela led a Warrior charge and chopped the deficit down to 56-51 with 2:15 remaining. Clint Brayfield’s putback amid heavy traffic in the paint halted Ruidoso’s momentum, and Placido Gomez’s two successful free throws — on a play set up by his own save along the sidelines — gave the Cards some breathing room at 60-51 with 1:34 left. And Bustos hit some late free throws for some insurance.

Robertson and coach David Bustos, now 3-2, play host to Class 4A Capital today. The Jaguars (6-4) are coming off a 49-40 loss to Española Valley in the final of their own Al Armendariz Classic.

Cowboys win second league game

Five Cowboys scored in double figures as New Mexico Highlands’ men’s basketball team outgunned Colorado-Colorado Springs 114-108 on Saturday night in the Lions’ Den.

Roman Andrade led the scoring with 28 points — including six three-point baskets — and nine assists. Backcourt mate Rashad Peterson was a marksman, going 9 for 11 in scoring 25 points; he also notched four steals. Jerard Moret (23 points, six rebounds), Mindaugas Markevicus (16 points, five boards) and Chris Dunn (12 points) also were in double digits.

Highlands connected on 61 percent of its field goal attempts and 67 percent (14 of 21) from long range.

Remarkably the Cowboys jumped to a 7-0 lead and led wire to wire, with the exception of the 16:21 mark in the second half, after a couple of three-pointers by Mountain Lion Nick Weaver tied the game at 61.

Weaver was the high-point man for the Mountain Lions with 27. Cole Smith had 23 points and 10 rebounds.

Coach Joe Harge’s Cowboys improved to 7-2 overall and 2-1 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. UCCS fell to 2-8, 2-1.

Bad start trips up Cowgirls

In the women’s game, a woeful shooting performance by Highlands in the first half torpedoed the Cowgirls in a 78-66 UCCS win.

The Lady Lions raced to a cozy 39-18 cushion at intermission and held on as NMHU outscored them 48-39 in the second half.

UCCS led by as many as 26 — 46-20 with 17:54 left — but the Cowgirls fought on. A three-pointer by Christine Pagels chipped the lead to single digits, 58-50, with 7:21 to go. Jessica Armijo’s steal and layup made it 70-62 with 1:25 on the clock.

Oliana Seanoa paced NMHU (0-7, 0-3) with 16 points; Pagels added 13 off the bench. Armijo contributed eight points, four assists and three steals.

For UCCS (5-5, 3-0), Jazzmin Awa-Williams tallied 18 points, seven boards and four assists.

Panthers streaking; mighty Lions await

The Pecos Panthers will enter their big game Tuesday night with the Santa Rosa Lions having won four of their last five games, thanks in part to a 69-57 win Saturday at Coronado.

The Panthers raced out to a 19-7 first-period lead as Joseph Gonzales scored 10 early points. The Leopards cut into the Panther lead outscoring Pecos 15-12, but the Panthers held a 31-22 advantage at the break.

Tim Baca got hot in the third period, scoring 10 of his 15 total points as the Panthers increased their lead 50-38. In the final period the Panthers were held to two field goals by Ricardo Ortiz, but Baca hit six free throws to help Pecos improve to 4-3.

On the night the Panthers were 15 of 19 from the line, but it was their pressure defense, according to head coach Clyde Sanchez, that was the determining factor.

“Our pressure worked really well as we forced at least 25 turnovers and nine steals. The kids played tough,” he said. Sanchez also noted two other key factors to the win. “Tim (Baca) did a really good job of distributing the ball (with nine assists).”

“We are trying to develop bench play, as we scored 11 points from our bench.”

Gonzales added 17 rebounds to go with his 22 points and Ortiz scored nine.

The Panthers host the No. 1 team in 2A Santa Rosa Tuesday in Pecos. The game was to be played last Tuesday but was postponed due to bad weather.

NMHU wrestlers roll in Reno

Highlands’ wrestling team placed 18th in a 30-team field in this past week’s Tournament of Champions in Reno, Nev.

NMHU amassed 25 team points, finishing just behind Ohio. National Division I powerhouse Oklahoma State won the tournament with 146.5 points.

Jesse Feinsod (174 lbs.) placed fourth in his bracket. He opened with an 11-3 major decision over Nick Knowles of Liberty, then scored a 19-2 technical fall on Jason Points of Cal State-Bakersfield.

But then Feinsod ran into a buzzsaw, No. 2 seed and eventual champion Luke Rebertus of the Navy. Rebertus edged the Cowboy All-American 9-7, and that would be the closest win he’d have in five matches en route to the title.

Feinsod recovered in the wrestle-backs, shutting out Portland State’s Ryan Sonderegger 8-0 and pinning Cal State-Fullerton’s Todd Noel in 2:07. After advancing over top-seeded Austin Trotman of Appalachian State due to a medical forfeit, he lost another nailbiter, 12-10, to third-seeded Shane Onufer of Wyoming in the third-place match.

Heavyweight Jesse Boggs compiled a 2-2 record in Reno. He made quick work of Travis Ewart of Missouri Valley in a 6-0 decision before getting pinned by No. 1 rated Jared Rosholt of Oklahoma State in a match that went 1:19. Rosholt would go on to win the tourney’s heavyweight title.

Boggs beat Cal Polytechnic’s Lenny Romero 3-0, then lost 3-2 to David Morgan of Cal State Bakersfield.

In the other weight classes, Nick Maestas (125) went 0-2; Donovan Troup (133) went 1-2, including a 17-10 decision over Adams State’s Arsenia Barskdale; Kasey Urquhart (141) went 0-2; Trey Saxon (149) went 1-2, with one defeat coming against eventual fifth-place finisher Luke Silver of Oklahoma State; Nick Sanchez (157) went 0-2; Jarrod Purvis (165) went 0-2; Andrew Roden (184) went 0-2; Luke McPeek (197) went 1-2 with a 4-2 win over Thor Moen of Arizona State.

Card grapplers in Greeley

Robertson's wrestling team placed 27th among 54 high schools in the Northern Colorado Christmas Tournament, which concluded Saturday in Greeley, Colo.

Loveland (Colo.) won the tourney with 214 team points. RHS had 71, tying for 27th with Fairview (Colo.) and just behind Columbine (Colo.) with 75.5.

Dons wrestle to fourth place

Meanwhile in Farmington, West Las Vegas scored a fourth-place team finish in Piedra Vista's Panther Classic over the weekend.

Bloomfield won the tournament with 191.5 points, followed by Bayfield (183), Piedra Vista (140), WLV (99) and Blanding, Utah (77). Thirteen high schools competed in the two-day event.