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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, December 19, 2008

Eagles struggle with fouls, turnovers in 60-49 defeat

Getting in synch for any length of time was a big problem for the Pecos Eagle boys basketball team on Tuesday night against the Kermit Yellowjackets. As was getting to the foul line.

The Eagles jumped ahead in the game by a 7-1 margin and would outscore Kermit in the third period by a 19-7 margin. But the rest of the game belonged to the Jackets, who went to the line 40 times compared to just 10 for the Eagles, and rallied in the fourth quarter for the second game in a row to beat Pecos, 60-49.

“Free throws are killing us. We’re getting into foul trouble and our guys are just not moving our feet,” said Eagles’ coach Sammy Soliz. “We had some careless turnovers, we’re not executing our offense, and we had no rebounds at all.”

Kermit came back from a one-point deficit going into the final period last Saturday to beat Pecos by a 50-44 score at the Monahans Sandhills Tournament. This time, it was post Travis Licon and guard Austin Grubbs who led the rally, mostly from the foul line. Licon led Kermit with 18 points, including 8-for-12 from the line, while Grubbs had an 8-for-10 night from the line and finished with 13.

The Eagles had all of their players available for the first time this season, but had their most unbalanced night of scoring on the year, with forward Luis Morales ending up with 29 of Pecos’ 49 points.

“Luis played an exceptional game. He did everything I asked of him, so I was pleased with that,” the Eagles’ coach said. “Junior (Carrasco) is still kind of injured and getting back into the flow of things, so we couldn’t use him that much. But Luis stepped up, and I thought Joseph (Rodriguez) did a good job for us rebounding when he was in there.”

Morales’ total included the first seven points for the Eagles, off a lay-up a short side jumper and a 3-point corner shot. But Kermit came back to score 13 of the next 15 points, led by guard Joey Muniz to take a 13-9 lead.

Several of those baskets came off Pecos turnovers, but Soliz said he also had a problem with some of the calls, including a couple of times when Zubeldia was knocked to the floor with no fouls called.

“That’s what I talked to the refs about. They were the ones who were pressing, and we’re the ones getting called for all the fouls,” he said.

Dario Portillo closed out the first quarter with a lay-up, but the Jackets would score the first 11 points of the second period to go up 24-13, before Portillo broke the string with a 3-pointer at the 4:14 mark of the period.

Pecos’ comeback began just before halftime, off a jumper by Morales and a lay-up by Rodriguez that got the Eagles back to within nine, at 31-22. Morales then scored 11 of the Eagles’ 17 points in the third period, including a couple of 3-pointers and a three-point play, with his second 3 putting the Eagles ahead for the first time since early in the game.

Morales added a lay-up just before the end of the quarter to make it a 39-38 game, but Kermit would go to the foul line six times in the first 45 seconds of the fourth period. Grubbs started off by hitting two free throws and Licon then gave the Jackets back the lead by hitting two of four free throws, as the Jackets got chances both off rebounds and steals, as the Eagles had problems for much of the night with Kermit’s full court press.

“If we did what what we were supposed to do, we would have broken their press easily,” Soliz said. “We knew what we should be doing, and if we’d go to our spots, we’d get easy lay-ups, but we didn’t.”

A rebound lay-up by Grubbs would put Kermit ahead to stay at 42-40, and started a 14-3 run that also included a 3-pointer by Muniz and a rebound basket off a Licon free throw miss by Brandon Arnsworth. Paul Zubeldia would get a rebound lay-up to stop that run, but Pecos could only manage another 3-pointer by Morales in the final 2 1/2 minutes of play and were forced to foul, sending Kermit to the line eight times in the final minutes of play.

Muniz also was in double figures for Kermit with 15 points, while Portillo had 10 for the Eagles, who dropped to 3-6 on the season going into Friday’s game in Presidio against the Blue Devils, starting at 7:30 p.m.

Pecos downed Presidio by a 55-39 score at home last month, with Carrasco leading the Eagles in that game with 17. Following Friday’s game, Pecos plays once more before the Christmas break, on Monday afternoon, when they host Lamesa in a 5 p.m. game.

Both the junior varsity and freshmen teams also will play the Blue Devils and the Golden Tornadoes, at 4:30 and 6 p.m. on Friday and at 2 and 3:30 p.m. on Monday. The JV lost on Tuesday to Kermit, 49-35, while the ninth graders fell, 41-20. Edmundo Dominguez led the JV with 14 points and Geronimo Ornelas topped the ninth graders with nine.

Pecos girls short of players, points in loss to Kermit

No scoring at the start, and the loss of their leading scorer at the finish hurt the Pecos Eagle girls on Tuesday night, as they took a break from District 4-3A play against the Kermit Yellowjackets.

Kermit scored the game’s first 11 points and led by as many as 15 points in the second period and 18 in the third quarter, before Pecos began cutting into that lead. The Eagles would get to within eight with 5 1/2 minutes to play in the fourth quarter off a pair of baskets by Gabby Garcia, and had two chances to cut the lead to six, but couldn’t convert before the Jackets’ Ashley Montoya came up with a pair of lay-ups off steals, while Garcia would foul out with 3 1/2 minutes remaining in what ended up as a 49-33 Kermit victory.

The Eagles went into the game shorthanded, with coach Brent McWilliams absent due to the death of his father. That also meant the absence of his wife, Ruth, Pecos’ junior varsity coach, and their daughter Leia, one of the Eagles’ starting guards. Freshman coach Lisa Marie Williams would handle the team, which only suited up seven players, and was bothered by foul problems most of the night.

“It was a good comeback until Gabby fouled out,” she said. “We had to go with what we’ve got, and we got to within eight when we started picking things up and making some lay-ups. All I know is the second half was a lot better than the first.”

Four different Kermit players scored in the 11-0 opening run, with Pecos finally getting on the board on a jumper by Olivia Castilleja with 2:43 left in the period. Garcia would hit a two foul shots in the final seconds of the quarter, but they came in-between a couple of 3-pointers by Lucia Quiroz, and when Montoya scored off a steal a few moments later, the Jackets had a 19-4 lead.

Garcia began getting openings after that, and the Eagles cut the 15-point deficit down to 10, at 22-12, with three minutes left in the half. But they were unable to score again in the period, and a Lauren Mott lay-up late in the quarter gave Kermit a 12-point lead at halftime.

Mott, Jennifer Muniz and Montoya then scored to open the third period, as Pecos again came out cold and saw their deficit grow to 30-12. But by the end of the period the Eagles had doubled their point total and narrowed the gap back to 12, as Garcia had a trio of baskets, while Catherine Moore had two lay-ups and a pair of free throws to cut the margin to 36-24.

Garcia then scored all six points in a 6-2 run to open the final period, hitting a jumper with 5:35 remaining to make it a 38-30 game. Pecos would then stop Kermit on their next two trips downcourt, but turned the ball over on their next three possessions, the last two being converted into lay-ups by Montoya. The Eagles wouldn’t score again until a basket by Kristen Ikler with just under a minute to play, by which time Kermit had widened their lead to 47-32.

“They were a little more aggressive out there, and we got a lot more fouls than we usually do,” Williams said. Garcia led all scorers with 20 points, and the Eagles went 7-for-12 from the line, after suffering through a 34 percent free throw shooting night last Friday, in their one-point loss to Clint in the teams’ district opener.

Monyota, Mott and Quiroz each had 10 points for Kermit, which won their fifth straight game. The Eagles fell to 2-8 on the season with their loss, and will make their longest trip of the season on Friday, a 230-mile drive to Anthony to take on the Wildcats, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Anthony is also 0-1 in district, after dropping their 4-3A opener last Friday in Fort Stockton by a 45-31 final score. Friday’s game is the final one for Pecos until after Christmas, when they’ll host Sweetwater in a non-district game on Dec. 30 at the Pecos High School gym.

Kermit also beat Pecos in the girls’ junior varsity game, 45-31, while the Eagles’ ninth graders defeated the Jackets’ 36-28. Carissa Cerna led the JV with eight points, while Kelly Lease’s seven topped the ninth graders in scoring. Only the JV is scheduled to play Anthony on Friday, starting at 5 p.m. CST.

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