Tight game decided late? Of course.
What about an issue with the clock? Absolutely.
Looks like just another game in the St. Michael’s-Hope Christian boys basketball rivalry.
Gabe Pino’s bucket on a driving layup 47 seconds into overtime carried the Horsemen to a wild 47-44 win over arch rival Albuquerque Hope Christian before a capacity crowd in Perez-Shelley Memorial Gymnasium on Thursday night. It was the District 5AAA opener for both teams.
It’s safe to say both teams walked out of the building mumbling about missed opportunities.
The Huskies (11-11, 0-1) were an anemic 3-for-25 from the field in the first half.
That included a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Micah Murphy to end the first half on a double-clutch shot that rattled in, out, and back in after time had expired.
St. Michael’s (13-8, 1-0) was shut out in the third quarter and went 11 minutes, 26 seconds without scoring between the second and fourth quarters.
“We played excellent basketball in the first half and they did the same to us in the third quarter, no doubt about that,” said Ron Geyer, Horsemen head coach. “In the end it’s another close game between us, so it was about what you would expect.”
St. Michael’s led by as many as 15 points in the first half before Murphy’s trey ignited 19-0 Hope run during the aforementioned Horsemen dry spell.
The Huskies turned the game around by pressuring a foul-plagued St. Michael’s lineup with tenacious man-to-man defense, forcing seven turnovers in the third quarter.
The Horsemen took just two shots in the period, missing both badly.
It wasn’t until Pino hit a pull-up mid-range jumper from the left side that they finally dislodged the “33” off the scoreboard. The bucket seemed to ease the tension for not only the fans, but the players on the floor.
“After that shot went in, the crowd really picked us up,” Pino said. “I’m not sure we were feeling the pressure, but we knew the offense wasn’t working. Sometimes all it takes is one shot.”
Another Pino jumper in the final two minutes tied the game at 42, allowing Hope to maintain possession for one last shot.
The Huskies worked the clock down to the final few seconds before Tommy Riley took an off balance shot that was off the mark.
The Horsemen never trailed in the extra session, although Hope did have the ball in the closing seconds with St. Michael’s leading 45-44. It ended when Zac Garcia drove into the lane for what would have been a shot at the go-ahead bucket, but Horsemen senior Santo Coppola stepped in front and took the charge with 5 seconds remaining.
Two free throws by Kameron Romero iced it, but not before the inbounds pass from Jeff Groenewold to Romero along the Hope baseline led to the Huskies swooping in for the foul.
Initially, no time ran off the clock as it seemed the foul occurred almost at the instant it reached Romero, but the referees conferred and shaved two seconds off the clock.
A final desperation heave was off the mark.
“It always seems games [in Santa Fe] against these guys come down to the last shot and we’ve been fortunate to get our share of those, but [Thursday night] wasn’t our time,” said Jim Murphy, Hope head coach. “I’ll tell you, though, our district’s going to be fun with the rivalry games again this year. It always is.”
Groenewold led the Horsemen, who visit Sandia Prep on Saturday night, with 12 points. The Sundevils beat Santa Fe Indian School 55-41 in the other 5AAA opener Thursday.
Justin Flores added 10 for St. Michael’s. Romero had seven and Pino 6.
Garcia had a game-high 16 for the Huskies. Murphy had 10.