BERNALILLO – Two times on March 8, Hondo basketball teams played a quarterfinal game at the Class 1A State tournament.
Two times, Hondo was taken into overtime, the first overtimes all season for either the boys or girls.
But while the Lady Eagles were able to pull out a victory and move on against Animas, the boys weren’t as lucky, falling 89-87 thanks to a last second rebound and putback by Jacob Quintana.
“I won’t take anything away from these kids, they worked to the fullest,” said Hondo coach Ben Sanchez. “They worked hard. I was a new coach coming into this program, and look where we got.”
Hondo (23-6) led big early, but found that lead dwindle to one by the end of the first quarter.
Springer (23-6) then surged ahead on three-point shooting by Estevan Romero and Isaiah Garcia, and the Eagles started getting sloppy on offense.
Hondo made a few inroads towards coming back, getting to within four on a layup by Antonio Vazquez with seven seconds left.
But Springer regained the momentum in a big way, as Gabriel Garcia launched a shot from beyond half court and hit the three at the buzzer to maintain a wider lead at halftime.
Interestingly, it was the second time that day such a shot had fallen against a Hondo team. Animas’ Tierney Washburn also sunk a buzzer beater from half court to end the third quarter against the Hondo girls that morning.
Springer maintained its lead through the third quarter until a layup by Oscar Guillen finally put the Eagles back on top by one with 46 seconds left.
From there, it was a tight contest, although Hondo led most of the way, eventually pulling far ahead thanks to an 11-0 run fueled by threes and layups from Simon Gonzalez.
Gonzalez finished with 29 points, as did Vazquez, while Miguel Gonzalez put in 15.
“These seniors played their heart out,” Sanchez said. “I feel they left everything out on the court.”
But while Hondo led by 11, the Red Devils weren’t out of it.
The comeback started with three treys by Romero and Damien Blahbach, and culminated in a pair of free throws by Garcia with .03 seconds left in regulation to make it 75-all.
“Springer’s a tough team, and we just had some breakdowns on defense,” Sanchez said of the fourth-quarter turnaround. “They were jacking up threes and they were going in.”
Isaiah and Gabriel Garcia, Quintana and Bryan and Estevan Romero were all in double figures for Springer, led by Isaiah’s 24 points.
In OT, the Eagles again took a sizable lead, looking to put Springer away for good, but the Red Devils weren’t having it.
Springer went on a 9-2 run to tie it at 85-all on a rebound and putback by Bryan Romero, and a layup by Gabriel Garcia got the Red Devils the lead with 41 seconds left.
Vazquez tied it up for Hondo with 30 seconds left, but that gave the Red Devils plenty of time to set up a play that ended with Quintana’s game clinching layup.
“We can’t take any of that back now. I told the boys they have to work over the summer to get back here,” Sanchez said. “I learned a lot from this group of boys.”