Eagles soar past Warriors

........................................................................................................................................................................................

This early in the 2012-13 season the Warriors basketball team is obviously looking to notch a couple of confidence building wins, but for now, the name of the game is gaining experience and growing together as a team before the onset of District 3-3A play on Feb. 4.

Jonathan Miller/El Defensor Chieftain: Socorro’s Ethan Smith shoots over the top of Belen’s Chad Chavez during their game on Saturday afternoon. Smith scored 14 points in an 82-42 Warriors loss.

Socorro definitely got a taste of what an experienced ball club looks like when they traveled the 40 miles north to take on Belen on Saturday afternoon. The Eagles walked away with a convincing 82-42 victory, but also left the Warriors with a small and unintentional parting gift. With the knowledge that if they can reduce turnovers and practice a little patience on the court, they should have a good shot of winning some games.

“Belen’s a good team,” Socorro head coach Lawrence Baca said. “They’re a good, quality ball club and they get after it. We’re getting a good taste of some experience.”

While the Warriors handled the ball a little bit better than they did against Estancia on Thursday, they still coughed the ball up a few too many times, which led to several transitions buckets for the Eagles.

However, when Socorro managed to protect the ball and get into their offensive sets, they found some success scoring. For Baca and his team right now, a key theme will be patience.

“If we can handle the pressure and get on our sets, we’ll give ourselves a chance,” Baca said. “We tend to hurry ourselves a little too much. Like I was telling the guys, we’re our own worst enemy. It’s not so much their pressure, we tend to feed right into it because we wanna go go go, instead of backing up, relaxing and seeing what’s coming. But that comes with experience and we’re not going to fix it overnight.”

And overnight was almost literally how long Socorro had to figure out how to work the ball around consistently and limit turnovers. They took on the 4A Eagles just about 41 hours after their season-opener against Estancia ended, and upperclassman-heavy Belen wasted no time in showing off its hard court background.

It jumped out to a 23-6 first-quarter lead, then held off a quick 11-4 Socorro second-quarter run to take a 41-25 halftime lead. The Eagles outscored the visiting Warriors 18-9 in the third quarter to extend their advantage to 59-34, then held Socorro to just eight points in the fourth quarter and cruised to the 82-42 victory.

Belen improved to 1-0 on the season while the Warriors fell to 0-2.

Dontae Vigil led all scorers with 18 points for Belen, Ray Montoya scored 15, Colton Lewis had 13 and Thomas Cordova scored 11.

Ethan Smith led the way for Socorro with 14 points, Michael Padilla scored 10 and Dylan Gallegos had nine.

Smith agreed his team just needs to learn to be a little more patient with the ball, and as the season wears on, his team should find its way.

“Our whole team just needs to take time,” he said. “We know how to play with each other. We just need to build on our confidence and keep going.”

Confidence might be another key phrase for a talented, but raw, team that just lost to a rival by 40 points. But Baca said he knows he’s got a good group of kids who have the ability to stay within themselves and not let games like this one get them too down.

“It’s got to come within them too. They’ve got to want it,” he said. “There’s a lot of work. We’ve got to take it game by game. It’s not going our way right now, but they’re getting the experience they need and it shows.”

The Warriors will travel to Pojoaque to play the 0-1 Elks on Dec. 8, then they’ll return home to play host to Tularosa on Dec. 11. The Wildcats are the defending Class 2A champions.