Balanced scoring and the lack of a dominant offensive threat usually led to state championship runs when the former Hobbs head coach was in charge of the most storied big-school program in the state.
This year’s Pecos boys basketball team is taking on that familiar trait.
The Panthers (3-1) beat Dexter 61-54 on Saturday night in the championship of the Johnny May Classic in Tularosa. Johnny Vigil scored a team-high 19 points, leading four players in double figures.
P.J. C de Baca and Brandon Quintana each had 13 points while Darren Lujan had 10.
The Panthers had at least four double-figure scorers in all three games during the tournament. In Friday’s semifinals they had six, all of them finishing within four points of one another.
“It makes it really hard to guard a team when they have that many players contributing,” said Russ Gilmore, Pecos head coach. “Some of my better teams in the past had three to four kids in double figures. It makes it where you can’t key on any one player.”
Pecos led most of the way against Dexter, taking a 36-29 lead at halftime before falling behind briefly in the third quarter.
The Panthers rebounded to open a six-point lead after three quarters and then extending the margin to as many as 11 in the final seven minutes.
Pecos will play its only home game of December when it hosts Santa Rosa on Tuesday. The Panthers beat the Lions in the opening round of the tournament in Tularosa.
“There are so many expectations that I think people believe wins are going to grow on trees,” Gilmore said. “What we have to do is just go out and play.”
Pojoaque Valley 59, Thoreau 23
In Albuquerque, the Elks got double-digit scoring from three players to take home fifth place in a tournament hosted by former district rival Sandia Preparatory.
Matthew Herrera led the way with 12 points. He helped Pojoaque open a 22-10 lead at halftime, then a 23-6 run in the third quarter put the game entirely out of reach.
Jamal Cunningham and Chris Martinez each had 10 as the Elks improved to 4-2.
Up next is the Ben Lujan Tournament in Jacona. Pojoaque will open the three-day, eight-team tournament at home on Thursday night.
Española Valley 55, Kirtland Central 47
In Española, Jared Garduno had a team-high 16 points to lead the Sundevils to the championship of their own Sundevils Classic.
Española scored nearly half their points in the first quarter, using a 27-13 run to build a big early lead.
The Broncos kept the game close, allowing only three points in the second quarter and clawing within five points with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Part of the problem was subbing five players in and out at a time for much of the game. It kept the players fresh, but it prevented any kind of sustainable momentum in the wake of Kirtland’s rally.
Two other players reached double digits for the Sundevils as Nathan Cordova had 12 points and Kyle Gaines had 10.
At 9-2 overall, they will face Robertson next week and then take a week off before heading to a tournament in Rio Rancho between Christmas and New Year’s Day.