All SHS boys do is win

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The Bears are who we thought they were.

An overmatched Class 2A team.

Isaac Avilucea/El Defensor Chieftain: Estancia’s DJ Steadman swats Socorro’s Nate Fenby on Thursday night inside Warriors gym. Socorro overwhelmed the Bears to improve to 3-0 overall. They were back in action Friday night, playing host to Belen.

The Socorro High School boys basketball team had few problems with Estancia, clobbering the Bears 70-43 Thursday night at Warriors gym. It took the Warriors (3-0) precisely 3 minutes, 57 seconds to flip a shortlived 7-5 Estancia lead, as they rattled off a 16-0 run, quashing any Bears’ fantasies.

“We got a little too out of control (at the beginning),” said forward Ibrahim Maiga, who looked like he’s rounding into basketball form. “We were kinda sloppy on the offensive end. We cleaned it up at the end, as you could tell.”

Maiga finished with 11, five of those coming during the Warriors’ key run. He amassed most of his points on a handful of easy putbacks and was generally more assertive with the ball.

Socorro had five players score during the course of that 16-0 blast. Center Sam Hale knotted the game at 7-all; Zeb Esquivel chipped in, and Humberto Lucero had a pair of baskets before guard Charles Contereras swooshed a 3-pointer to put SHS ahead 21-7. The rest of the game was a mere formality.

For Estancia, it was unbearable.

It found itself down 16 points by intermission, and things continued to get worse. By the end of the third quarter, the Warriors’ lead soared to 30.

Yet it was SHS’ anemic start that bothered head coach Lawrence Baca. Esquivel had SHS’ first five points, and then the Warriors didn’t score for more than two minutes, enabling the Bears to take a brief lead.

“That’s one of our weaknesses is having a slow start,” Baca said. “It takes us a while to wake up. We’re gonna have to do a better job of getting a fast start. I knew we were gonna be fine. But I don’t know what it is. It’s something we need to get better at, especially when we play the St. Mike’s (of the world). We gotta play 32 minutes of hardnosed, high-energy basketball.”

Except the Warriors only needed to play fewer than four minutes of high-energy basketball.

The Bears weren’t in position to make them pay for mistakes they made. And those mistakes were few and far between, but they were there.

With 4:32 left in the third quarter, Contreras blew a breakaway layup. Shortly after that, guard Michael Padilla got absolutely swatted out of the gym. And in the fourth quarter, the Warriors resorted back to their early-first-quarter selves, playing off-kilter and wasting a bunch of offensive possessions.

“It’s just nitpicky things,” Baca said. “There’s two things we need to get better at: Being patient on offense and doing a better job rebounding. With the size and bodies that we have, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be outrebounding some of these teams by 12.”

Lucero had his best game to date, shooting efficiently on the way to 19 points. He was one of four Warriors in double figures. Contreras finished with 12, and Esquivel added 10 points.

Maiga said the tendency is to relent when a team is up big, but he felt the Warriors continued to play with intensity.

“That’s when you can find yourself lightening up, not doing what you’re supposed to do,” he said. “Good teams don’t let that happen. We did pretty good for the most part. We never let them back in the game.”

POJOAQUE VALLEY 48, SOCORRO 39:

The Socorro girls basketball team played near-flawless basketball Thursday night.

Emphasis on the near part.

The Warriors modified their press to deny the ball from Pojoaque guard Cheyenne Cordova, whittled the Elkettes’ 10-point cushion down to two and had an opportunity to tie at the end of the game. But Greenwood’s play drawn up for forward Bryahnna Baca never materialized, as the Warriors gave the ball away, unable to snap their six-game losing streak.

“We just didn’t handle the pressure of that situation well,” head coach Marleen Greenwood said. “The opportunity was there. The play was open, and we just kinda froze up. We just didn’t execute offensively, and in tight games, it’s gonna kill you.”

The Warriors get another crack at the Elkettes in the first round of the Ben Lujan tournament.

Limiting Cordova to seven points, the Warriors steadily chipped away at the lead. As has been the case all year, they didn’t fill up the stat sheet in the third quarter, turning in only nine points. But the Elkettes were just as sterile in that frame, and Socorro hung around.

Ashton Monette and Baca then went bonkers in the fourth, combining for 13 points. They finished with 12 points apiece, helping the Warriors pull within a bucket with two minutes left.

Except SHS couldn’t convert in the clutch, Baca never got the ball and the Warriors met an all-too-familiar outcome.

“I’m sure it has to be wearing on their psyche,” Greenwood said. “But I think the kids have still done a real good job focusing.”

 


-- Email the author at iavilucea@dchieftain.com.