Hondo survives a Grizzly charge

By Todd Fuqua

Photo by Todd Fuqua Hondo guard Miguel Gonzalez, center, floats between Carrizozo's Jared Guevara (3) and Riley Pierson, March 4, during the first round of the Class 1A State tournament at Hondo.

HONDO – Don’t tell Carrizozo’s boys that a 13th seed is unlucky in this year’s Class 1A State tournament.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Carrizozo’s Garrison Ventura, center, is surrounded by Hondo defenders Porfirio Romero (21) and Simon Gonzalez, March 4, during the teams’ Class 1A State playoff game at Hondo.

Sure, the Grizzlies lost their opening round game to Hondo, March 4, 67-40, but for 1-½ quarters, Carrizozo made things very interesting indeed.

At the end of the first quarter, the Grizzlies trailed by just two points, 16-14. Midway through the second quarter, the game was tied 18-all.

Then Hondo (23-5) went on a 15-2 run and took over.

“We started off real sluggish,” said Hondo coach Ben Sanchez. “Carrizozo has nothing to lose. They were here to play, just like we were.”

While Simon Gonzalez has been a regular one-man wrecking crew for the Eagles this season, it was his younger brother Miguel that actually did the most damage Saturday night.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Hondo forward Simon Gonzalez, right, fires a three shot as Carrizozo’s Treisten Barela rushes to defend, March 4, during a Class 1A State playoff game at Hondo.

Miguel ended up with 25 points to compliment Simon’s 19. It was his pair of straight 3-pointers in the second quarter that really opened things up for Hondo.

“My teammates just got me the ball and I got a lot of open looks,” Gonzalez said. “I was just playing my game.”

Even with their run, though, the Eagles still only led Carrizozo (12-17) by 10 points at the break.

“I told the kids this week that we can’t have (Simon) scoring everything and everyone else just scoring three, four points here and there,” Sanchez said. “Everyone has to put in their points if we want to win.

“Miguel stepped it up,” he added. “He’s been focused this entire week.”

Another factor in the Eagles’ win was rebounding, particularly 13 boards from Chris Torrez.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Carrizozo’s Riley Pierson, far right, goes high for the rebound, March 4, during his team’s Class 1A State playoff game at Hondo.

“He’s a workhorse down there,” Sanchez said of Torrez. “He’s not as big as some of these guys, but he’ll outrebound you. He’ll get up there.”

Hondo continued to pull away steadily in the second half, but the Grizzlies continued to work hard.

Garrison Ventura had 15 points to lead the Grizzlies before fouling out, while Jared Guevara had 10.

“We had a good week a practice before this game,” said Carrizozo coach Trampus Pierson. “We worked on some things and a big part of it was just being mentally tough and mentally prepared.”

While the season ended in a loss, Pierson said the way his team performed at the end showed the pride his boys had, and pointed out the future of Carrizozo basketball could be bright.

“We’re pretty young. Xavier (Zamora) will be our only senior next year,” Pierson said. “I told them being a good basketball players starts tomorrow. If you want to be a godo player, work on your skills in the offseason.”

As for Hondo, they head to Bernalillo, Wednesday, to take on Springer in the Class 1A quarterfinals.

Game time is about 4:45 p.m., while the Hondo girls face Animas at 8 o’clock that morning.

Sanchez said his team can’t afford a slow start against the Red Devils on Wednesday.

“Anyone can win this, one through 15,” Sanchez said. “We’ve got to bring it now, we can’t start like we did. If we do, we could easily be down 10.”

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