MESCALERO – Was it surprising that Mescalero’s boys basketball team was able to handle Carrizozo so well in their 51-42 victory on Jan. 12?
Maybe a little, according to senior guard Harry Wheeler.
“We hadn’t had the team chemistry like we had tonight,” said Wheeler, referring to Mesclaero teams of the past. “We’re getting a lot better at that now, and the coach is saying it too. We should have a good rest of the season.”
Things didn’t go as well for the Chiefs the following day, as they dropped a 66-28 loss to Fort Sumner.
After a close-contested first quarter Which saw Carrizozo (9-9) with a 13-12 lead, the Chiefs moved ahead on a layup by Wheeler with 5:33 left in the second frame, and there they stayed for good.
That doesn’t mean it was an easy game for Mescalero, however.
“In the second half, we have to learn how to finish and win games at the end,” said Mescalero coach Randy Courtney. “We pulled out a win tonight, but we have to get smarter in places like that.”
While the Chiefs (7-9) had the lead for the rest of the game, the Grizzlies were able to get within three points in the final period after posting a 6-0 run, culminating in a layup by Garrison Ventura.
Carrizozo was able to keep it close thanks to the outside shooting of Xavier Zamora, who had five 3-pointers and 23 points to lead the Grizzlies.
Wheeler countered with 19 points, but those were the only two players for either team that were in double figures.
However, the Chiefs at least had every player but one put points on the board.
The rest of the night was defined by defense, missed shots and turnovers.
Carrizozo’s modest three game winning streak was snapped by the loss, a win streak that included a 47-45 win over a talented Gateway Christian team in the semifinals of the Smokey Bear tournament at Capitan.
“The guys understood what we needed to do defensively, and the game plan worked out,” said Carrizozo coach Trampus Pierson. “Gateway is big and physical, but that was probably the smartest game we played. We were patient on offense and got what we wanted.”
Mescalero gets to host Gateway on Jan. 16, while the Grizzlies take on Corona at home on Jan. 17.