CAPITAN – The first quarters for both the girls and boys basketball games in Capitan’s regular season finale did not go the way everyone expected.
Considering Eunice’s squads were both highly ranked in the state – the girls are No. 1 in Class 3A – the fact that both games were tied at the end of the first quarter was surprising.
However, the Cardinals and Lady Cardinals still both ended up with wins by the end of the day.
Equally surprising was how low scoring each game was to start. Capitan’s girls (11-15, 0-8 District 4-3A) were knotted up at 6-all after one quarter before allowing 14 points in the second frame and eventually falling 56-25.
The Tiger boys (6-20, 0-8) were tied 8-all before Eunice (13-12, 7-1) shot out ahead for a 48-39 win.
Actually, the boys game got kind of tight near the end, as Capitan proved they would not quit.
“Eunice is No. 1 in our district for a reason, and they have a good shot to make a deep run in the State tournament,” said Capitan coach Justin Foust. “We played hard and did what we could. But that’s what happens when you’re a good team, you put away another team. They knew how to finish and we still haven’t figured it out.”
After a disastrous second quarter which saw Eunice score 20 points to the Tigers’ nine, Capitan settled down and stopped the bleeding.
By the fourth quarter, they actually started making a comeback, getting to within eight points on a steal and layup by Jacob Smith with 3:30 left.
In the end, Eunice’s speed proved to be too much to overcome. They also spread the scoring around and outrebounded the Tigers 42-26.
Brandyn Miller was the only Cardinal in double figures with just 10 points, but he was one of eight Eunice players to put points on the board.
Price Bowen, likewise, was the only Tiger in double figures, also with 10 points.
Capitan’s last-place seed means they travel to Loving tonight for the first round of the District 4-3A tournament.
“We’ve played the last two weeks knowing we’d be playing in the first game on Monday,” Foust said. “I’ve played a lot of guys and a lot of minutes, so when we hit the district tournament, we know it’s our one shot and we’re hoping we’re ready.”
After remaining close in the first quarter, Capitan’s Lady Tigers found they couldn’t keep up with the Lady Cardinal onslaught and found it difficult to get the ball past half court thanks to Eunice’s pressure defense.
“The kids didn’t quit, playing the No. 1 team in the state like they were,” said Capitan coach John Devine. “We handled their press well at the start, and if we’d made some shots at the other end, it could have been that way at the end of the half. I’m proud of the effort the kids gave.”
Eunice (23-3, 8-0) got 13 points each from Harria Mendoza and Gaby Sanchez, while Dakota Hazen led the Lady Tigers with just nine points.
Turnovers were the big difference. Capitan had 20, while the Lady Cardinals had just five.
Capitan’s girls also finished last in the district standings, and are at Dexter tonight in the district tournament first round.
“It should be a good game. Dexter’s a good ball club,” Devine said. “We have to do some things to shut down (Madison) Bogle, who has hurt us both times we’ve played them.
“We just have to play to our abilities,” he added. “If we do that, we’ll move on.”