CLOUDCROFT – One Mescalero team finished first, one finished third.
But as far as the boys and girls Chief basketball coaches are concerned, they’re both champions.
Mescalero’s boys took home the third place trophy at the Mountaintop tournament, Dec. 9, thanks to a 68-25 win over tournament host Cloudcroft, while the Mescalero girls remained unbeaten by defeating Cloudcroft 72-38 in the championship.
Mescalero’s girls (7-0) are off to their best start ever thanks to a relentless pressure defense and offense, although it took a little bit for it to get going against District 3-2A opponent Cloudcroft on Saturday.
Cloudcroft (3-3) actually scored first on a jumper by Kaylee Hickman just four seconds into the game, but the Chiefs later got the lead on a layup by Fallon Velasquez and never trailed again.
After Diana Cook briefly tied it up with a layup, Mescalero went on a 13-0 run to pretty much put the game away before the first quarter was done.
Velasquez led her team with 22 points, while Ramona Fossum had 14 points and Tunte Baca contributed 10.
Mescalero had the unique experience of playing all District 3-2A teams during this tournament, having bested Cliff 51-44 in the first round and getting past Lordsburg 55-47 in the semifinal.
Chavez said seeing district opponents this early isn’t a good thing.
“If you play a team enough times, they’re going to beat you eventually,” said Mescalero coach Elmer Chavez. “Even though this is a close tournament, we’ll probably look around for another tournament next year.”
Boys take third
The Mescalero boys (5-2) also faced District 3-2A foe Cloudcroft (0-5) in their final game of the tournament, leaping out to a 16-3 lead in the first quarter and never looking back.
Aloysius Comanche had 24 points to lead the Chiefs. Dewell Eldridge had eight points for the Bears.
Like the girls, Mescalero’s boys also faced off against Cliff, falling 56-38 in the semifinals. They beat Mountainair 53-46 to start off the tournament.
“That loss to Cliff was a little bit closer than that,” said Mescalero coach Adam Herrera. “They got some layups late in the game when we were trying to force some stuff, trying to hurry.
“We just have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot,” he added. “Today was an encouraging win.”
Both teams host the Mescalero Holiday Classic this weekend. The girls take on Carrizozo in the first round, Dec. 14, while the boys face off against Hondo.