It’s just one loss, right?
That’s one way of viewing Capital’s 61-54 loss to Albuquerque Atrisco Heritage on Wednesday night. The good news about the loss is that it came against one of the top teams in Class AAAAA that came close to winning the APS Invitational championship last week.
But what is troubling is the paper thin margin Capital has between being a championship-caliber team and merely a good one. Playing without starting guard Michael Sanders clearly hurt, especially on the defensive end.
However, the Jaguars lost B.J. Eraze, a post who gave the Jaguars depth behind Mikey Lopez and Taylor Martinez, but chose to return home to Canada last week.
Capital also lost Xavier Valencia, who was expected to start play this month after spending the season on academic probation.
However, he went down with a torn ACL two weeks ago. At least Ivan Olivas is eligible to play now after spending November and December on the same probation.
But what once were two key additions expected to give Capital more depth suddenly became one addition who gives the program a bench.
The Jaguars went from a team that was settled and confident to one struggling to make changes on the fly.
Even Capital head coach Mark Senteney acknowledged the Jaguars are trying to fit new pieces into a suddenly incomplete puzzle.
“We’re going to have to polish those roles,” Senteney said after the loss. “Maybe we’re going to have to spell it out and define them a little clearer. What we’ve got right now are pieces.”
The roles among the starting five are clear, especially when Sanders is healthy, and the five seniors know how to play as a unit. Derrick Chavez knows his role off the bench, and Olivas will get to know his as he gets more playing time. Eraze knew his role, but struggled to accept it.
What the Jaguars need, though, is help when Lopez and Martinez need rest or are in foul trouble, since opponents are targeting the two bigs.
Capital spent the last two minutes of the first half with the 6-foot-5 Martinez and the 6-3 Lopez on the bench, and it is a much smaller team when that happens.
Herman Torres and Jesus Diaz worked hard during their absences, and Diaz even hit a couple of free throws during his stint.
Still, the Jaguars lose bulk and length in the middle, and future opponents like Albuquerque Academy, St. Michael’s and Española Valley — all teams the Jaguars play next week — will do what they can to exploit that.
Eraze was a security blanket that could hold Capital over until Lopez or Martinez could return.
Unfortunately, he’s not in a Jaguar uniform any more. What remains to be seen is how Capital morphs into the team it will be for the rest of this season.
It was just one loss in the record book, but the losses on and off the court are making this run for a championship harder than it looked two weeks ago.