Reserve guard Martin “Tino” Castellano buried a three-pointer from the left wing with 13 seconds left in overtime, giving his West Las Vegas Dons insurance in an 88-82 win over Robertson on Saturday night at Mike Marr Gym.
More than a thousand fans were on hand to witness the all-Meadow City contest, which took its place among the more exciting versions in the rivalry’s recent history.
The lead changed hands five times and the score was tied six times, and it took an Andres Gallegos trey with eight seconds left in regulation plus a subsequent RHS turnover to extend the game to overtime.
Gallegos’ three, set up by a Lucas Rodriguez pass, knotted the score at 74-74. After a traveling violation was whistled against Robertson, Rodriguez received an inbounds pass from D.J. Bustos with :01.7 on the game clock. Rodriguez nailed what appeared to be a game-winning three from the top of the key, but officials ruled that the shot did not beat the buzzer.
In overtime, the Dons outscored their hosts 14-8. Robertson did a good job getting to the foul line but struggled to make free throws, going 2 for 10. And by that point, Cardinal post Joe Mascarenas -- one of the team’s most reliable inside scorers and rebounders -- had fouled out.
West’s Joe Ortiz scored five of his 21 points in the overtime period to help the Dons close out a hard-fought win and a well-played game for both sides.
Ryan Tafoya, displaying ability to score from the perimeter as well as in the paint, led all players with 34 points, including 14 in the third quarter. He made five three-point baskets and just missed on a first-period dunk attempt that teammate Brandon Trujillo followed up for a bucket.
A Tafoya basket opened the game, but West swiped the lead with a 13-2 run. An old-fashioned three-point play by Ortiz gave the Dons their largest lead of the night, 13-4, with 3:11 left in the quarter. It was 18-13 West at the end of the first.
A couple of buckets, both off the backboard, by Brandon Maes helped the Cardinals tie the game at 19-19. A Mascarenas hoop later in the second period returned control to Robertson, 29-27. It was 32-27 RHS before a D.J. Bustos three-point play made it 32-30, the halftime margin.
A three-point play, two technical-foul free throws and a three-point bomb by Tafoya fueled an 11-1 Robertson run early in the third quarter, and the Redbirds led 43-33 with 4:47 left in the period. Momentum seemed firmly on the Cardinals’ side.
But D.J. Bustos, who’d tally a dozen points in the quarter alone to counter Tafoya’s prolific output, converted a three-point play to end the run. Bustos, Castellano and Gallegos all made three-point baskets for the Dons, who finished the quarter on a 13-0 surge. At quarter’s end West led once more, 56-51.
Robertson’s outside shooting tipped control back in its favor. Jalen Martinez struck first from long range, and then it was Tafoya, slicing out to the same spot on the right corner for back-to-back threes, giving the home team a 62-60 edge.
West managed to tie the game twice, including a 63-63 deadlock with 4:54 to go.
Mascarenas responded with six consecutive points, scoring on a spin move in the lane, a drive up the middle, and a tip-in putback to give RHS a six-point advantage with 2:05 remaining in regulation.
Four free throws by Jalen Martinez and one by Brandon Trujillo made it 74-71 with 16 seconds left.
Half the remaining time was gone when Gallegos nailed the game-tying three, sending the West fans into a frenzy. The uproar only increased after Martinez was called for traveling, giving the Dons 1.7 seconds to try a game-winner. Rodriguez’s shot, which hit nothing but the bottom of the net, came just after time ran out.
The Cardinals missed their first four foul shots and seven of their first eight in overtime. A steal and score by Tafoya was their first field goal about three minutes into the extra session, and it cut West’s lead to 78-77. Ortiz answered with an up-and-under layup and drew a foul. His successful free throw made it 81-77 with 1:44 left.
Pancho Caro added one free throw to make it a five-point spread with 1:27 to go. Trujillo scored on a putback, but Gallegos converted two free throws on the other end to regain the five-point margin with 1:10 left. Maes scored -- off the glass again -- to get the Birds within 84-81 as overtime’s last minute began. Castellano made one of two foul shots, and then Diego Montoya did the same on the other end, leaving the score 85-82 with 32 seconds remaining.
After West milked time off the clock, Castellano ended the Cards’ hopes with his big outside shot with 13 seconds left.
Robertson had beaten WLV 59-51 in the seventh place game of the Stu Clark Tournament in late December. That game saw the Dons control the first half before the Cardinals took over with an inspired effort after the break. The teams will meet again for their second District 2-3A game on Feb. 9 at Gillie Lopez Gym.
First, though, Robertson and coach Manuel Romero visit Raton, and West Las Vegas and coach Ernie Rodriguez host Taos, both on Wednesday evening.
Unofficial scoring, WLV (7-12): D.J. Bustos 22; Joe Ortiz 21; Andres Gallegos 15; Martin Castellano 9; Lucas Rodriguez 9; Pancho Caro 8; Jose Juan Montaño 1; Mike Ortiz 1.
RHS (7-10): Ryan Tafoya 34; Joe Mascarenas 16; Jalen Martinez 10; Brandon Maes 7; Brandon Trujillo 6; Ricardo Martinez 5; Justin Dimas 2; Diego Montoya 2.