Boys open district play by squashing Bears

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It was prep basketball’s equivalent of death by lethal injection.

Quick and relatively painless.

The eight-ranked Socorro High School boys basketball team strung together its best first quarter of the year, and scored the most points it has all season, on the way to a 78-40 throttling of Hatch Valley in its District 3-3A opener on Tuesday inside Warriors gym. The Warriors led 28-11 after the first eight minutes, as the final horn sounded just before 8:15 p.m.

Head coach Lawrence Baca said the Warriors, finally back at .500 basketball, pounced quickly and ruthlessly.

“Hatch is down, and it’s obvious,” Baca said. “Regardless of who we’re playing, we have to focus on what we’re doing and just execute. For the most part, we did a decent job.”

The Bears, the same team that last week managed just eight points against top-ranked Hope Christian, never found their sense of direction. For the first time in a long time, the Warriors got the start they needed, and it was obvious it took the air out of the Bears’ lungs.

Humberto Lucero scored 17 of his 20 points in the first half and drew a rare five-point play. He hit a 3-pointer with 1:17 left in the half and was subsequently fouled by the Bears’ Garrett Gillespie. He swished the accompanying free throws, and SHS entered halftime with a commanding 50-23 lead.

Lucero scored only three points in the second half, mostly because he saw limited action, to finish with 20, as Socorro’s bench mopped up the rest. Everyone who suited up for the Warriors scored at least one point, as the reserves combined for 28 of the team’s 78 points.

“It’s just a matter of getting them to focus regardless who we’re playing,” Baca said. “It’s hard these days to get these guys focused and prepared to play, especially when you’re playing a team like that when you know you’re gonna win.”

The focus, though, was there throughout.

Baca was nonplussed with allowing Hatch to score 40 points, but the half-split showed the Warriors allowed fewer points in closing it out (17) than opening it.

“We did what we were supposed to do,” Lucero said. “We tried to hold them to less points, but we didn’t step up on defense. We have to play better defense against better teams.”

Gilespie paced the Bears with 23 points, 15 of those coming during the first half. Ibrahim Maiga, the only other Warrior in double figures, added 13.

The Warriors were at Hot Springs on Friday, but results were unavailable at El Defensor Chieftain press time.

 


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