CARRIZOZO – It took every second of 32 minutes to determine the winner between Carrizozo and Capitan’s boys basketball teams, Jan. 3.
After the Grizzlies had taken only their fourth lead of the game on a jumper by Dominic Barela with 14 seconds left, Capitan took a time out with 8 tics to set up the final play.
It took some doing, but Tiger center Enrique Hernandez finally found himself under the basket and made the layup as time expired.
Hernandez was fouled on the play, and was able to convert the three point play with no time on the clock to give his team the 49-48 victory.
“He’s supposed to set a pic right there on the inbounds and then roll down,” said Capitan coach Justin Foust. “He ended up right where he was supposed to be, ended up with the ball and was able to finish.”
Hernandez ended up leading Capitan (3-6) with 16 points, offsetting a terrific night from Grizzly guard Jared Guevara.
Guevara finished with 22 points, including a five-point swing near the beginning of the fourth quarter which put Carrizozo (6-7) in front by a point.
Riley Pierson added 14 points for the Grizzlies – including an 11-for-11 performance at the free throw line – while Alejandro Trujillo put in 15 for Capitan.
While the Tigers turned in a terrific performance to hold off a determined Carrizozo team, Grizzly coach Trampus Pierson said things could have been better for his team with the right attitude.
“I’m not going to make excuses, but we just didn’t play well tonight,” Pierson said. “We let our attitudes dictate how we were going to play this game tonight. When you let that happen, you’re halfway lost.”
The result was a decidedly different one from Carrizozo’s 66-21 victory over the Tigers at the Mountain Top Tournament at the beginning of December. Partly, that’s because Foust has had time to give his team the preparation it needed during the holiday break.
“The week off was nice. We had a lot of guys healed up and a lot of time to practice,” Foust said. “Getting two extra bodies back and getting some extra rotations in really helps.
“The biggest improvement I saw was in our defense,” he added. “To hold them to 48 points is a big turnaround.”
Just two days later, the teams face off again in the first round of the Smokey Bear Tournament, tipping off at 6:30 p.m. in Capitan.
“We’ve got to get right back into it and start playing again,” Pierson said. “I expect this to be a really good game. Tough way to come out of the break, but it builds character, I guess.”