RUIDOSO – Even with his team leading handily at the end of the third quarter, Ruidoso boys basketball coach Billy Page knew better than to write off East Mountain.
He was right to worry, but the Timberwolves’ comeback in the final period fell short, as the Warriors earned a 52-40 victory on the final day of the Ruidoso Mountain Madness Shootout, Jan. 6.
“(East Mountain) was down 20 to Pojoaque and came back, they were downs 12 or 13 against Socorro and came back to beat them,” Page said. “At the end of the third quarter, I told them they couldn’t let up, but we were able to overcome it and I was pretty happy with the effort.”
Ruidoso (10-5) got back to winning ways after a disappointing start to the shootout with a loss to Taos, and the wins come just before the Warriors are set to start District 4-4A play.
Page said the shootout was designed to do just that.
“To go 2-1 over three days is what you want,” Page said. “East Mountain isn’t a weak team. They beat Socorro and played tough everyone they played. It was good we were able to hang on.”
Things were close to start, Saturday, before the Warriors went on an 11-2 run to build a lead they’d maintain the rest of the game.
But the Timberwolves (6-7) were always nipping away at Ruidoso’s heels, hanging around just close enough that their fourth-quarter push made the Warriors sweat.
After being held to single digits in each quarter, East Mountain scored 20 points in the final period and started with an 11-2 run of its own to make things interesting.
After Page took a time out to stop the momentum, Ruidoso buckled down and got back to scoring and winning.
“We lost focus there a little bit in the fourth quarter and let them get back in it, but we recovered and held on,” Page said. “I told them to stay focused and keep doing the things know how to do.
Josh Romero had what might be considered an off day, but still led Ruidoso with 16 points, while Sebastian Polendo put in 12.
Elias Padilla scores 17 points to lead East Mountain.