Shawn Baker revved up his engine in the second half, as Avonite went on cruise control to thump Douglas Construction (9-2, 4-1 Division 2), 85-59, in a battle for the division championship. The much-anticipated contest keyed Week 11 in the Los Lunas Men’s Basketball Association.
In a physical battle between the two stalwarts, Avonite (9-2, 5-0) cashed in on 16 of 18 free throws in the first half to take a 40-32 halftime lead. Avonite’s Tony Valencia went a perfect 8 of 8 from the charity stripe and Baker 5 for 5, Douglas committed 14 of its 23 fouls in the first 20 minutes.
Douglas fought back and scored the first eight points of the second half to grab a 41-40 lead when Jay Lewis scored on a layup from a nifty feed from Wally Salata.
After an ensuing timeout, Avonite and Baker went on a tear and reassumed command. Baker scored 16 straight points on four treys and a pair of two-pointers. Six minutes later at the 10 minute mark, Avonite enjoyed a double-digit lead at 59-47.
Avonite’s lead increased steadily, thereafter, as the winners pushed their advantage to 67-52 with 5:54 left in the contest. Ortega’s final two 3-pointers iced the cake for Avonite.
Taking advantage of 23 DC fouls, Avonite went 22-30 from the free throw line; Douglas managed only 5 of 7 from the stripe.
Baker fired in 20 second half points, enroute to a game-high 31 markers. Valencia followed with 23. Rick Ortega added 13 and Willie Sanchez 12 for Avonite.
Joe Torres and Danny Montano each tallied 14 points for Douglas. Wally Salata, held to his second lowest game ever, canned 13 and managed only four points in the second half. Salata, in his long LLMBA career, has never scored less than double figures in any one game.
With his 31 point outburst, Baker took over the scoring lead at 30.3 points per game. Salata fell to 29 points per game.
The win sews up a possible first seed in the upcoming playoffs, beginning March 24, for Avonite. Douglas, despite the loss, captured runners-up in Division 2.
Lone Mountain 77
Lone Mountain Contracting (5-6, 2-3) flashed its old winning form and trounced Youngblood (5-6, 1-4) behind Steve Montoya’s 30 points.
Montoya scorched the nets for six treys, as Mountain didn’t falter this time offensively in the second half. Against Youngblood, LMC netted 44 second-half points to pull away after a close 33-29 lead at the half.
“We got our confidence back from last week,” LMC player-coach Jeremy Utash said. “We tried to play better defense and concentrate on moving without the ball.”
Josh Utash followed Montoya with 17 points, including five treys. Alan Romero added 11 and Joe Sais put up 10 for Lone Mountain. Vince Pino led Youngblood with 19 points. Ron Brooks chipped in with 16.
Utash is hoping for bigger and better things for the post season. “We can make some noise in the tourney. We’re all very competitive and have the experience. I wouldn’t count us out,” he said.
Heritage Title 93
Behind the inside-outside combo of Avery Cheeks and Eric Griego, the Heritage Title Crusaders (8-3, 3-2) stunned Homegrown with a game-ending 7-0 run.
Cheeks popped in 32 points, including his signature half-hook arsenal of shots and Griego complemented his output with 23 markers.
With only five players on hand, Homegrown (8-3, 3-2) who have lost back-to-back games eked out a 51-47 halftime lead. Eloy Medina smoked the cords for 24 first-half points, all on 3-pointers. Medina finished with 29 points.
The Crusaders held an 84-81 lead with 39 seconds remaining but got clutch free throw shooting from Dustin Romero, Greg Christenson and Griego. The trio combined for 6 of 8 charity tosses down the stretch while holding Homegrown scoreless to add to its big-time victory collection.
Margarito Amaya followed Medina with 16 points. Jose Bibian scored 14 and Dave Griego added 13 in the loss.
No Doubt 89
No Doubt (7-4, 4-1) took the lead in Division 1 and gave themselves and excellent chance at the divisional championship by routing the Albuquerque Bombers (3-8, 1-4).
After an upset win over Homegrown the previous week, the bombers couldn’t hit water from the middle of the ocean against No Doubt. ND jumped out to a 14-0 lead and hit warp drive, enroute to a 27-2 lead with under nine minutes left in the firs half. The winners took a 40-15 halftime lead as the Bombers crashed and burned.
Jaime Williams, who has scored 100 points in his last three games, led No Doubt with 25 points. Donald Bartrum had a career high 20, Rob Gallegos scored 18 and Gabe Montaño dropped 18 to support Williams.
Jason Arceneaux led the Bombers with 13 points, and Lamott Daffin added 11.
ABC Mortgage 2 (forf)
Oak Tree Inn 2 (forf)
ABC Mortgage (2-9, 1-4) and Oak Tree Inn (2-9, 1-4) got forfeit wins over the Los Lunas-Belen Ballers and Al’s/Husky/Sunrise Builders (6-5, 2-3) respectively.
Theloss by Al’s may cost them an “A” tournament berth.