CAPITAN – When the Capitan and Carrizozo boys took the floor for their final meeting on Jan. 30, the Grizzlies were looking for some payback.
When they played each other the first time – on Carrizozo’s home floor – the Tigers got the win thanks to a free throw by Enrique Hernandez with zero seconds left.
On Monday, it took overtime, but Carrizozo escaped with a 48-42 win.
It was a win the Grizzlies needed.
“When you get a team like this and they have the desire to win, that’s what it takes,” said Carrizozo coach Trampus Pierson. “Hopefully that’s the reward you get is winning, even if it is in overtime.”
This game was close the whole way through, with Capitan tying it at 27-all at the end of the third quarter on a three-pointer by Alejandro Trujillo, whose 18 points and clutch shooting kept the Tigers (6-12) in the game.
Hernandez added 13 for the Tigers, but for a while, it looked like that wouldn’t be enough.
Carrizozo (11-10) had a four-point lead with 50 seconds left in regulation, but the lead dwindled to a point on a three by Trujillo with 34 seconds left.
On the ensuing inbound after a time out, Jacob Smith got the steal and Trujillo hit his third 3-pointer of the game to put the Tigers up 40-38 with 21 seconds left.
After another steal, the Grizzlies had to foul with eight seconds left to even have a shot.
But the Tigers missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Garrison Ventura got the rebound for Carrizozo.
He went coast to coast for the layup and the buzzer – two of his team-leading 17 points – and this game was in overtime.
“Carrizozo played a good game, and effort-wise, our stuff was there,” said Capitan coach Justin Foust. “I think the biggest problem we had tonight was not boxing out on defense. As many offensive rebounds as they ended up with, second-chance points were the difference.”
“We’re very fortunate we got the foul so late in the clock,” Pierson said. “Had there been more time, who knows what would have happened? We were both hitting key shots, and it ended up in our favor. Thank goodness it did.”
In extra frame, it was free throws that made the difference. ‘Zozo went to the line seven times and made six, while the Tigers didn’t get to the charity stripe once.
“That was probably some of the smartest basketball we’ve played this year,” Pierson said of the overtime. “This was a total team effort.”
This was a much-needed with for Carrizozo, as the rest of their schedule involves a punishing District 2-1A schedule, starting with a long two-day road trip to Quemado and Reserve Feb. 2-3.
After that, it’s another road game at Hondo, but that’s practically a home contest. At least it’s in the same county. All the rest of the Grizzlies’ matchups are at home for the regular season.
“Hopefully, with this win, going into those two games (at Quemado and Reserve), we have more momentum,” Pierson said. “Hopefully we can stay focused and play well.”
Capitan’s schedule is just as fierce. The Tigers are at Magdalena tonight, then it’s a District 4-3A schedule the rest of the way – the lone exception being a home date against Ruidoso on Feb. 11.
“There’s not a break, but there shouldn’t be this time of year,” Foust said. “You want a tough district that will make us better, and the young players are going to have to grow up quick.”