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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Loboes able to hold off Eagles’ late game rallies

The Pecos Eagles never could quite catch up to the Monahans Loboes on Friday night, in their first road game of the District 2-3A boys’ basketball season. But the also never would go away, and gave the Loboes a few minutes of nervousness before Monahans was finally able to come away with a 65-61 victory.

The Eagles, who game in having lost 12 out of their past 13 games, stayed with the Loboes in the opening period. But Monahans’ size advantage inside combined with some 3-point shooting, allowed the Loboes to go out to as much as a 12-point lead in the second period, only to see Pecos cut that margin to one late in the third period.

Monahans held off that rally, and went out to another 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter, only to see Pecos rally again, cutting a 57-47 lead to 60-59 with 1:31 to play. But the Eagles couldn’t take the lead on two tries downcourt, and the Loboes then stopped Pecos two more times while getting foul shots from Blake Hughes and Tyson Childress to clinch the victory.

“I wouldn’t say we put a complete game together, but that’s the best we’ve played in a while,” said Eagles’ coach Sammy Soliz, whose team did much better in Monahans than they had at home in their district-opening losses to Fort Stockton and Presidio. “They’re pretty upset about losing, but they’re pleased with the way they played tonight.”

Pecos got into early foul problems against Monahans, but Soliz stayed with his starters, as the Eagles stayed close to the Loboes in the opening period. “I just told the guys to go out and play without picking up that third foul,” he said. “Eventually Timo (Reyes) did pick up his third foul, but I wasn’t going to save them for the end of the game. I wanted to keep the game close.”

The Eagles were down by only a 15-13 margin when Brandon Jaquez hit a 3-pointer to close out the opening period, and then would hit another early in the second quarter around lay-ups by Rex Rose. J.R. Lujan and Paul Zubeldia had lay-ups for the Eagles during that span, but Monahans would eventually go up by a 33-21 margin on a Quincy Titus 3-pointer, and held a 38-28 halftime lead.

Monahans was up 42-30 when the Eagles went on a 13-2 run to cut the lead to one. Lujan would hit a foul shot, and then add a 3-pointer after a Luis Morales basket, and Zubeldia would have a pair of lay-ups around a 3-pointer by Chris Sotelo. Pecos would get a chance to take the lead, but Aaron Armendariz would could up with a steal and lay-up to keep the Loboes in front, and Trevor Owens would score on a trio of lay-ups early in the final period as part of an 8-1 run that gave Monahans another double-digit lead.

Sotelo would start Pecos’ final rally by hitting a jumper as Tanner Owens fouled him with just over five minutes to play. He then converted the free throw and a Zubeldia lay-up and foul shots by him and Reyes would get Pecos to within four, at 59-55, with 2 1/2 minutes left.

After a Jake Walker free throw, Reyes would score off a steal and lay-up, and Zubeldia would then by fouled by Childress and convert two foul shots to make it a 60-59 game. Hughes would then lose the ball on Monahans’ next possession, but Walker would then come up with a steal, and after Hughes was fouled and made one of two free throws, Zubeldia couldn’t connect on a lay-up in traffic and Childress was then fouled and converted two shots with 31 seconds left to make it a 63-59 game.

Lujan then had a shot deflected and Monahans again came up with the rebound. Hughes was fouled and hit one of two shots for a five point lead, and after two foul shots by Lujan with 11.3 seconds made 64-61, Walker clinched the game by hitting one of his two free throws at the 9.9 second mark.

“Our guys may have had a few nerves, and that’s going to come with inexperience,” Soliz said of the missed chance to take the lead. “I just called a time out and called a specific play, but we just didn’t execute.

“But I’m really proud of the way the kids played today and if they’ll just give me that, I’ll be proud,” he added.

Zubeldia had 21 points and Lujan 17 for the Eagles, while Hughes’ 13 points led Monahans. The loss dropped Pecos to 5-18 on the season and 0-3 in district at the halfway point of the schedule. The Eagles will start the second half of 2-3A play on Tuesday night, with a 7:30 p.m. game in Fort Stockton against the Panthers.

Monahans hands Pecos girls first district defeat

The Pecos Eagles saw their hopes of an undefeated season in District 2-3A girls basketball ended on Friday night in Monahans. But the Eagles still have one more chance to clinch their first outright district basketball championship since 1970 on Tuesday night in Fort Stockton against the Prowlers.

The Loboes took control of the game in the second quarter and never allowed the Eagles closer than six points the rest of the way, as they beat Pecos by a 57-48 score to assure themselves of a trip to the Class 3A playoffs. The Eagles, who clinched their own trip to the playoffs three days earlier, are still one game ahead of Monahans and can clinch the 2-3A title by closing out regular season play with a win in Fort Stockton.

“We just couldn’t shoot tonight,” said Eagles’ coach Donna Gent. “I felt like we were taking good shots, but they just didn’t fall in.”

Pecos led only once all night, after a 3-point shot by Brittany Palomino gave the Eagles a 7-6 lead in the first quarter. But Monahans would regain the lead before the period ended, and in the second quarter a 3-pointer by Erin Fisher started a 9-2 run for the Loboes and gave them a 20-12 lead.

Gabby Garcia would hit a foul line jumper just before halftime to get Pecos back within six, but Amy Rose opened the third period with two jumpers. She was fouled by Palomino on the second and missed her foul shot, but Fisher came up with the rebound and scored to make it a 26-14 game.

“We didn’t rebound well at all tonight, and we had way too many turnovers,” Gent said. “We had 14 in the first half, but we did cut that to just four in the second.”

Monahans would go up by as many as 13 points in the period, at 31-18, and were up by 10 after three quarters, at 39-29. Pecos would open the period with a steal and lay-up by Veronica Tarin and a foul shot by Jasmine Rayos, who would later add a lay-up and two more foul shots to get Pecos to within six, at 43-37 with 5:42 to play.

But Monahans would get a jumper by Kali Lewis and two lay-ups by Kattey Marquez as part of an 8-1 run that put the Loboes back up by 13 with 3 1/2 minutes remaining. Another 3-pointer by Palomino and a rebound lay-up by Garcia cut the lead back to eight with a minute to play, but Kristi Holly would then hit two foul shots with 42 seconds left to seal the victory.

Rayos had 19 points and Garcia 10 for Pecos, while Monahans was led by Rose and Abby Marquez with 10 points apiece. The loss dropped the Eagles to 12-13 overall going into Tuesday night’s game. A win would advance Pecos to the area round of the Class 3A playoffs, while a loss coupled with a Monahans win in Presidio would force a first place playoff for the second year in a row between the Eagles and Loboes.

Monahans also won Friday’s junior varsity game by a 46-27 score. Olivia Castilleja led the Eagles with 12 points.

Redistricting to boost travel for PHS teams

The Pecos Eagles will be minus two district rivals next season, but will keep another along with adding their current El Paso-area rivals in football to their district list in all other events, following the announcement of bi-annual realignment on Friday by the University Interscholastic League.

The UIL kept Pecos and Fort Stockton in the same football district as Clint, Fabens, Anthony and Tornillo, but shifted Monahans into a new district that includes Permian Basin and South Plains schools. They also dropped Presidio from Class 3A to 2A, and will now have Pecos and Fort Stockton competing against their El Paso rivals in all other extracurricular sports, except for swimming, along with other UIL music and academic activities.

Meanwhile, the Balmorhea Bears saw little change to either their football or basketball districts in the new realignment. Balmorhea will retain their same district rivals as in the past two years, but the Bears will be placed in Region II for six-man football and in Region I for their Class A-Division II basketball.

Pecos Eagles head football coach and Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Athletic Director Chris Henson said only the shift of Monahans out of the current football district surprised him. “Going in, I figured we’d stay exactly the same,” he said.

For the past two years Pecos, Fort Stockton and Monahans have been paired with Presidio in a four-team District 2-3A all UIL activities except for football, which Presidio dropped as a sport in 2002. In football, the three schools were part of District 1-3A with Fabens, Clint, Tornillo and Anthony, the latter two schools with Class 2A enrollment, but were allowed to play at a higher classification in order to save on travel costs.

Class 3A is made up of teams ranging from 430 to 979 students, though both Anthony and Tornillo are over 100 students below the normal 3A cutoff point. The new district will be District 4-3A and will be in effect for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years.

“We’ll have kids traveling on Tuesday nights, and that’s not good,” said Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Superintendent Manny Espino of the change. Outside of Fort Stockton, 55 miles away, the new district will have Pecos making at least one trip a year to Tornillo (175 miles), Fabens (180 miles), Clint (185 miles) and Anthony (230 miles), in all team sports. In their current district, the Eagles’ longest trip is 155 miles to Presidio.

“It’s not good to have them leave early, travel all day and come back in the middle of the night, but I guess we’ve got no say, so we’re going to have to live with it,” Sotelo said.

Pecos spent four years as the lone area team in a Class 4A district with five other El Paso-area schools, including Clint and Fabens. The Eagles qualified for the playoffs all four years in every sport except for basketball, but struggled for the next several seasons after dropping down to Class 3A and being moved back into a Permian Basin-centered district.

District superintendents and athletic directors will now have to meet to draw up plans for the upcoming year. Sotelo said Jose Cervantes of Fabens ISD was the district administrator in football this past season, but not in other UIL activities for Pecos. The UIL has designated Fort Stockton as District 4-3A administrator for the 2008-09 school year.

“We usually meet in Van Horn, so in a little while we’ll get all the district administrators together and see where we’ll go,” Sotelo said.

Henson said Friday’s realignment is only for football and basketball. But it’s unlikely there would be any changes for the other team sports when those district alignments are announced later this month. Schools have until Feb. 14 to appeal Friday’s football and basketball district alignments.

The only sport that figures to have a completely different district will be swimming. None of the four El Paso area schools have swim teams, and Pecos has been in a district that includes Permian Basin sub-Class 5A school along with Abilene Wylie in recent years.

Henson said Pecos already has a tentative 2008 football schedule, which would tentatively begin the weekend of Aug. 29-30, with a game at Alpine. The Eagles will keep Monahans on their schedule with a game on Sept. 19, and will also play Kermit, Denver City and Snyder in pre-district. The sites of the games with the Loboes and Denver City have yet to be determined.

“We’re going to try to get in a couple of games where we see a lot of size and speed,” Henson said of their final two pre-district games against Monahans and Snyder. “Those two teams will give us a good look at how we are going into district.”

Pecos will host Kermit and play on the road against Snyder, while District 4-3A play would open on Oct. 10 at home against Fort Stockton. Their other tentative district games are Oct. 17 at Fabens, Oct. 24 at home to Tornillo, Oct. 31 in Anthony and Nov. 6 at home against Clint.

Along with later announcements on the other UIL sports, Sotelo said he would have to check and see where the other non-athletic UIL events will be held. The Pecos Eagle Band competed in El Paso in the UIL marching contest from 1998-2000, but marched in Odessa during the school’s final year as a member of District 2-4A, in 2001-02.

Monahans’ move came as the UIL ended its two-year experiment of four-team Class 3A districts in West Texas. The Loboes will now be in District 3-3A, paired with Andrews, Midland Greenwood, Lamesa, Seminole and Brownfield. That district will be the bi-district round opponents for playoff-qualifying teams out of District 4-3A.

District 1-3A will now be based in the Texas Panhandle, and will include Lubbock Estacado, which drops from Class 4A to 3A. District 2-3A will now be based in the Big Country area around Abilene and will also include one drop-down from Class 4A in Brownwood.

Division II in six-man football will only have three districts per region, and Balmorhea will again be paired with Dell City, Marathon, Sanderson and Sierra Blanca as part of Region II in the small school six-man playoffs. Post-season qualifiers in the Bears’ district will also draw a first round bye before facing the bi-district round winners out of Districts 5 and 6. Balmorhea will be in District 8-A for the next two years, after being part of District 1-A the past two seasons, while District 6 will include former district rivals Grandfalls and Imperial.

The Bears will be in District 7-A for basketball, but as a member of Region I. Dell City, Fort Davis and Sierra Blanca will be Balmorhea’s district rivals in basketball, and they will be matched up in the bi-district round of the playoffs against District 8-A, which includes Grandfalls, Imperial, Sanderson, Rankin and Marathon.

Presidio drops into a district with Alpine, Kermit, Crane, Ozona and Reagan County and Sonora. The biggest change in the Permian Basin comes at the Class 5A level, where Abilene Cooper drops to Class 4A and will be with Big Spring, San Angelo Lake View, Frenship, Plainview and Hereford. Abilene High moves east and will be paired with schools in the Fort Worth area, while Midland and Odessa’s 5A schools are reunited with San Angelo Central in football, but will also add Lubbock’s three 5A schools, Amarillo Tascosa and Amarillo High to create a 10-school District 2-5A.

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