When Capital and El Paso Bel Air meet Saturday to decide the Al Armendariz Classic championship, the Highlanders will effectively put an end to the nondistrict portion of their season.
The Jaguars are barely three weeks into theirs, but the two square off in a rematch of last year’s battle, which Bel Air won 42-40 for the tourney title.
So, there will be little to the imagination for either team when they play at 8 p.m. in Edward A. Ortiz Memorial Gymnasium.
The Highlanders (10-2) advanced with a convincing 67-41 win over Santa Fe High in the round-robin format. Capital punched its ticket with a 70-56 win over Golden (Colo.) in the nightcap.
The rematch will be a battle of the Jaguars’ size and experience versus Bel Air’s athleticism and tough defense. One thing that will be at a premium is taking care of the ball. Capital head coach Mark Senteney made note of that.
“On one possession, they had three deflections,” Senteney said. “So they get their hands on a lot of passes.”
When the ball sticks to the Highlanders’ hands, they make teams pay. The Demons, despite 12 first-half turnovers and a 32-18 halftime deficit, crept to within 32-25 on Tres Chaires’ layup with 5:57 to go in the third, but sloppy passes thwarted the run.
Santa Fe High (1-4) turned the ball over on three straight possessions, and while Bel Air didn’t convert any of them, the tone was set.
When Josh Martin Del Campo scored on a putback, it started a crucial 12-2 run that made it 44-27 by the end of the quarter.
As for Capital (5-0), it needed contributions from its bench to finally put some distance on Golden. There was Derrick Chavez’s 3-pointer that gave the Jaguars a 32-29 lead at 4:22 of the third.
And B.J. Eraze, a senior transfer from Canada, made his presence felt with 11 points and six rebounds and showed maturity after an off-night against Deming on Thursday.
He finished the night with the one thing he wanted to do in a varsity game — dunk. He and Golden Demons forward Austin Rickard went for a Mike Lopez inbounds pass, but Rickard deflected it toward the Capital basket and Eraze had an open path to the flush that met with a roar from the crowd.
“I’ve been waiting for this since the first game,” Eraze said. “In the summer league, [Michael] Sanders threw me and alley-oop at St. Mike’s.”
The roar grew louder on the final basket as Golden’s Phil Katzman, who has Down’s Syndrome, went in for an uncontested layup.
Deming 93, Capital JV 58
The Wildcats took out their frustrations over not beating the varsity Jaguars on the sub-varsity version. A 31-7 run in the second quarter turned a 12-all knot into a 43-19 mess.
Eric Saenz led a quintet of double-digit scorers for the Wildcats (5-1) with 14 points, while Eric Coca had 15 to lead the Capital JV, and Sergio Barey added 12.