Sophomore sensational in dreary shooting exhibition
When everyone else was slumping, the sophomore rose to the occasion.
Zeb Esquivel scored seven of his 13 points in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game at Silver, keying the motor-less Socorro boys basketball team’s run that just came up a mile short of its preferred destination.
The Warriors, who fell behind the Fighting Colts by as much as 20 points, dropped a 56-51 decision, putting Silver (8-10, 4-0) in the driver’s seat of the District 3-3A race.
But head coach Lawrence Baca said Socorro (10-11, 2-1) is still in the thick of things. They’re not backseat driving yet.
“We’re in the passenger’s seat,” he said. “We’re, by no means, in the backseat. We’re right there with them, and we can’t wait to play them again. There’s no backseat with my kids. We know we can play with them. We just have to get them when they come up here.”
Without Brandon Reese, no longer a member of the team, Silver had no problems. Alex Lopez hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter, and finished with 15 points, as the Fighting Colts built and carried a 13-point lead into halftime.
The Warriors’ size advantage on the interior was negated when Sam Hale picked up his third foul early in the first quarter. He wouldn’t re-enter the game till late in the third, and by that time, that Fighting Colts had stretched their lead out to 20.
That’s when Esquivel turned up the defensive pressure. The Warriors rolled out full-court pressure, and Esquivel’s sticky hands led to some much-needed steals. With about two minutes left, the Warriors trailed by three points.
Michael Padilla had an opportunity to tie it up late, but his wide-open 3-pointer didn’t find the mark. The Warriors rebounded and kicked the ball to Ibrahim Maiga, who missed a mid-range jumper, but SHS collected the ball and fired it to Charles Contreras behind the 3-point line.
No dice. The Fighting Colts then put the game on ice with a pair of free throws.
“If that would have went in, I think that would have burst their bubble,” Baca said. “The momentum was going our way. We had the crowd quiet. Everyone was intense. We were diving for balls. Our defense had shook them up there at the end.”
No one more so than Esquivel.
“He was a spark for our comeback,” Baca said. “He gave us a chance there at the end. He played a hell of a game. I couldn’t say more about him. He was the player of the game, in my eyes.”
Maiga finished with a game-high 21 points. But Maiga and Esquivel’s production wasn’t enough to offset the Warriors missing seven free throws in the final eight minutes. Adam Kesler had 10 for the Fighting Colts.
SOCORRO 60, SILVER 31:
Steal, layup, repeat.
The Socorro girls basketball team took 1 minute, 15 seconds to turn a 12-point game into a 18-point game. The Warriors forced a series of turnovers, as Silver couldn’t advance the ball past midcourt for the duration of that flurry.
Dezirae Armijo caused a pair of steals and converted them into easy buckets. Meantime, the frazzled Colts checked out, and Socorro earned its first district win of the season.
Socorro opened the game on a 10-1 run and threatened to blow the game open, but the Fighting Colts finally showed life. They pulled to within four points early in the second quarter, but SHS outscored them 15-9 the remainder of the way to hold a 10-point halftime advantage.
JeriAna Contreras finished with 13 points, and Armijo had 10. The Warriors held the Fighting Colts under double figures. Lindsay Griffin had nine points to pace Silver.
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