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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bears down Longhorns to take tournament title

The Balmorhea Bear boys basketball team came away with first place in their own tournament on Saturday, pulling away from the Buena Vista Longhorns in the third quarter of the championship game before winning by a 46-38 final score.

Ryan Mondragon, who was named tournament MVP, converted on a three-point play midway though the third period after Buena Vista had rallied to tie the game at 27-11, then hit a lay-up off a pass from Adam Roman to start an 11-1 run to close out the quarter and give the Bears a 10-point lead. Balmorhea would go up by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter before a final comeback attempt by the Longhorns fell short.

Mondragon was one of three Balmorhea players shaken up in the first half, and had to briefly leave the game to get a contact lens replaced. But the Bears’ new coach, Matthew Sutherland, said “We like a physical game. We want to have the more physical team every night, and that’s what we want to do in our own way.”

Sutherland, who came to Balmorhea just after Thanksgiving, after serving as an assistant coach at the Madison Academy just outside Montgomery, Ala., took over the Bears from coach Debiasie Mendoza one game into the 2008-09 season. “Coach Mendoza had them going when I got here and passed it on to me. I’ve made a few changes and I’m trying to get the kids to work hard.”

Balmorhea led most of the game, but never by more than six points until their run late in the third period. They took their first lead at 6-4 on a rebound lane jumper by Daniel Bejarano and closed out the period with a 5-0 run on two foul shots by Jerry Baeza, following a technical foul call against Buena Vista’s Joey Acosta, and a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Roman to end the first period.

The Bears’ biggest lead of the half was at 19-13, on a 3-pointer by Nathan Lozano, and they still held a six-point margin at halftime, at 21-15. But the Longhorns Adrian Perales came out with two quick baskets to get his team back within two, and 3-pointers by Dominique Perales and Zack Bugg would eventually tie the game.

Gabriel Jurado would have the final six points of the Bears’ 11-1 run to close out the period, hitting a 3-pointer and then converting a three-point play off a pass from Matthew Corrales. In the final period, the Longhorns would cut the lead to eight a couple of times early in the quarter, but a lay-up by Mondragon, a jumper by Bejarano and a foul shot by Baeza made it a 46-33 game with 2:16 remaining.

Mondragon ended up with 16 points to lead the Bears, while Lozano, who also was named to the all-tournament team, finished with 12. Bugg with 11 points on Dominique Perales with 10 topped Buena Vista in scoring.

Balmorhea never trailed in their 58-40 semifinals win over Sierra Blanca on Friday, jumping out to a 9-0 lead on three baskets by Jurado, a Lozano lay-up and a free throw by Bejarano. Sierra Blanca missed several lay-ups during the opening period, getting their lone basket of the quarter on a jumper by Nathan Sanchez with just under two minutes to play.

The Bears would lead by as many as 14 points in the first half, at 20-6, on a steal and lay-up by Baeza, and went in at halftime ahead by 10, at 26-16. Jurado, who led Balmorhea with 17 points, would open the second half by hitting from 3-point range, and Roman would later add a 3 to put Balmorhea back up by 14, at 36-22.

Balmorhea then closed out the third period with a 7-0 run, on two baskets by Jurado and a three-point play by Lozano, to move ahead by 20, at 46-26. The biggest lead for the Bears would be 23, at 53-30 following a 7-0 run that included a three-point play by Mondragon and baskets by Baeza and Justin Ramirez.

The wins improved Balmorhea’s record to 10-4 on the season going into the holiday break. Their next game will be against Van Horn on Jan. 9 in Balmorhea, and they’ll start District 7-A Division II play on Jan. 13, also at home, against Dell City.

Sierra Blanca’s 3rd quarter rally beats Balmorhea

Balmorhea Bears’ head coach Abel Garcia was happier about his team’s Saturday result than the one on Friday for the Bears, as the host team at the Balmorhea Invitational Tournament, even though the Bears came away with a win the first day over the Buena Vista Longhorns and lost in the tournament finals on Saturday against the Sierra Blanca Vaqueros.

Balmorhea jumped in front of Sierra Blanca in the first half of the tournament title game, before the Vaqueros rallied in the second half for a 43-38 victory, while on Friday, the Bears advanced to the title game with a 34-33 overtime win against the Longhorns.

Esmeralda Bustamante hit four 3-pointers for Sierra Blanca as part of a 23-point game that earned her MVP honors, while Adriana Powell scored 15 points for the Vaqueros, who held off the Bears in the closing minutes, when Balmorhea missed several chances to cut the lead to three points.

However, Garcia said despite the late shooting problems, “My girls played really well today. Yesterday, we didn’t play very well, but we came out wit a win. Sierra Blanca is a pretty strong team. They’re probably one of the two top teams in our district. They have both an inside and an outside game, so they’re going to be tough.”

“We came out really strong, and stated with them. We had 15 points in the first quarter,” Garcia said, as the Bears held a four-point lead after one period and were up 20-17 at halftime. “We hit a few outside shots. One of our freshman, Anisha Vasquez was hot and another freshman (Kendra Ramos) came out and she was hitting.”

Balmorhea had no players in double figures, but Ramos and Matta both finished with nine and Vasquez added eight for the Bears.

“We mostly have an inside game right now, but the two freshmen are coming around, and I started them today, because I knew they would hit their shots from the outside,” Garcia said. In Friday’s overtime game, he teams traded the lead for most of the first three quarters, but Balmorhea was able to grab a 21-17 lead early in the final period on a jumper by Vasquez, the Bears then led for most of the final period, until Buena Vista’s Danielle Dillard hit a shot from the foul line with two minutes to play.

Both teams then missed several scoring chances, with Balmorhea failing to convert on two free throws, while Buena Vista saw Lucinta Olivas just miss a rebound shot of her own miss with two seconds to play, sending the game into overtime tied at 26-all.

Jelanie Sanchez put the Bears ahead with a lay-up to start overtime, but the Bears would trail twice in the extra session, and didn’t take the lead for good until Sanchez found Rodriguez for a lay-up, giving the Bears a 32-31 lead with 30 seconds to play. The Longhorns then turned the ball over with 18 seconds left, and Vasquez would hit a jumper at the 12-second mark, which allowed the Bears to survive a last-second basket by Kassandra Sherwood that came from just inside the three-point line.

Garcia said the Bears’ second place finish this weekend leaves them at 6-5 going into the three-week Christmas break. Balmorhea will host Van Horn on Jan. 9 in their next game, and then start District 7-A play with home game s against Dell City and Sierra Blanca. Valentine and Fort Davis are the other teams in the district this season.

Late missed FT cost Eagles in 49-44 loss to Blue Devils

The Pecos Eagles lowered their turnover total on Friday night in Presidio, but they couldn’t raise the foul shooting numbers when they needed to at the finish, and dropped a 49-44 game to the Blue Devils.

The game was the next-to-last for Pecos both before the Christmas holiday and before the start of District 4-3A play. The Eagles were at home Monday afternoon against the Lamea Golden Tornadoes and then will be off until Jan. 3, when they begin their district schedule with a home game against the Tornillo Coyotes.

“We probably ended up playing our best game of the year,” said coach Sammy Soliz. “We only had 16 turnovers, and we were stronger on rebounds. We did a lot better on the defensive boards.

“The only thing that really hurt us was our free throws. It came down to the last couple of minutes, and we couldn’t make our free throws,” he said.

Soliz added that Pecos did have two turnovers late in the game that were costly, but that the 16 overall on Friday were about half what the Eagles had been averaging this season.

Pecos had beaten Presidio at home last month by a 55-39 score, but Soliz said, “They shot a lot better this time than they did then.”

No scoring totals were available for the game, which dropped the Eagles to 3-7 on the season going into Monday’s game against Lamesa, which has dropped four straight games – the latest by a 63-48 score on Friday to Lubbock Cooper -- after opening the season with five straight victories. Post Stefan Alexander led the Golden Tornadoes in the game with 12 points.

Eagles shut down Wildcats for first district victory

The Pecos Eagle girls picked up their first victory of the 2008-09 season in District 4-3A basketball on Friday night in Anthony, as the shut down the host Wildcats on their home court in a 35-16 victory.

Gabby Garcia outscored the Wildcats as a team on the night, and had over half of Pecos’ points on the night, finishing with 18. Most of that came in the middle quarters, as Eagles pulled away from Anthony over the final three periods, after both teams had trouble scoring in the opening period.

Haley Holguin hit the first basket of the game, almost three minutes into the first period, and added a pair of free throws to give Anthony a 4-2 lead after Garcia got Pecos on the board with her first basket midway through the opening period.

The Eagles would take the lead at 5-4 on a rebound lay-up by Leia McWilliams and were up 7-6 and the end of the first period. The Wildcats would regain the lead to start the second quarter, on a pair of free throws by Lourdes Ramirez, but Pecos then scored the next 12 points in the period, going ahead to stat at 9-8 on a jumper by Olivia Castilleja.

McWilliams and Garcia would both have a pair of baskets after that, while Kristen Ikler added a lay-up, as the Eagles took a 19-8 lead. Anthony would finally end that run just before halftime, and cut the lead to 19-12 as the third period opened on a Cathy Vasquez basket. The Wildcats would still trail by seven midway though the period when the Eagles started a 10-0 run that carried into the fourth quarter, and included a basket and foul shot by McWilliams, a pair of jumpers by Garcia, one from 3-point range, and two foul shots by Aileen Rayos early in the final period.

Vasquez ended that streak with a lay-up, but that turned out to be the Wildcats’ only points of the period. The Eagles also had problems getting the ball in the basket in the final minutes of play, with their only points coming off lay-ups by Garcia and Brittany Palomino.

The win improved Pecos to 3-8 on the season and 1-1 in district, while Anthony fell to 0-2 in district play. The Eagles are now tied for second with Fort Stockton, Fabens and Tornillo, after the Wildcats beat the Prowlers in overtime on Friday, 55-51, and the Lions downed the Coyotes, 43-22, to take sole possession of first place in the 4-3A standings.

Pecos’ next district game won’t be until Saturday, Jan. 3, when they host Tornillo, but before then the Eagles will play their final game of 2008 next Tuesday, Dec. 30, at home against the Sweetwater Mustangs.

Anthony did come away with a win in the junior varsity game, by a 33-28 final score. There was no freshman game between the Eagles and Wildcats on Friday.

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