After 11 straight wins, No. 1 seed Avonite must have felt like Eliot Ness and the Untouchables. Homegrown, defending “A” tournament champs, enacted a little sting operation by upsetting Avonite’s applecart, 61-55, in a winners’ bracket semi-final on Wednesday.
In torrid Los Lunas Men’s Basketball Association playoff action, No. 3 Homegrown (12-3, 3-0 in tournament play) advanced to the “A” tournament champioship. Meanwhile, Avonite (12-3, 2-1) got back to its winning ways by stomping Cinderella sixth-seed Al’s/Husky/Sunrise Builders, 93-61, on Thursday.
Two improbable “B” tournament hopefuls, the Los Lunas-Belen Ballers and the Albuquerque Bombers, advanced to the “B” championship with convincing semi-final victories in the single-elimination affair.
The Bombers (4-9 and No. 2 seed) ended ABC Mortgage’s quest with a 66-56 win, while the Ballers (5-9 and No. 4 seed) staged a 62-55 upset victory over No. 1 seed Lone Mountain Contracting (6-7).
Albuquerque Bombers 66
ABC Mortgage 56
The Bombers played superbly in the first half, going on a 12-0 run midway through the period, en route to a 34-22 advantage at intermission. With the lead, the Bombers fought off ABC’s late charge in the second half.
Trailing 48-34 at the 10:34 mark, the Mortgage Men, behind Richard Johnson’s 21 points, whittled the deficit down to 60-54 with 1:17 remaining. But Ron Montoya and Levon Davis each hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to help nail down the victory.
Landon Banks led the Bombers with 17 points. Andy Flishman chipped in with 14 points, and Mike Jones added 13.
Johnson was the only ABCer to reach double figures.
It marked the second straight season ABC fell in the semi-finals in the “B” tournament.
Los Lunas-Belen Ballers 62
Lone Mountain Contracting 55
Behind the scoring trio of Jeremiah Cordova, Scott Blair and Marquis Walker, the Ballers ended Lone Mountain Contracting’s disappointing season with a thrilling victory, en route to the “B” championship against the Albuquerque Bombers.
Trailing throughout the contest, Lone Mountain showed more than a few cracks in its once-shining armor against the younger and quicker Ballers.
Lone Mountain fired in five of its eight 3-pointers in the second half to come within striking distance.
With 52.6 seconds to go, the Ballers held a precarious 59-53 lead. But Cordova and Walker iced the victory with three free throws between them to ensure the win.
Cordova, who scored 37 points in Los Lunas-Belen’s two playoff wins, led the charge with 15 points. Blair added 14, and Walker chipped in 10.
Lone Mountain’s second leading all-time LLMBA scorer, Steve Montoya, fired in five treys, good for 15 points. Alan Romero paced LMC with 18 points, and Joe Sais added 10. Sais, however, fouled out in the contest with just under nine minutes remaining.
Homegrown, the only team to beat Avonite twice this season, pulled off the stunner in “A” semi-final action with a swarming, hustling defense that frustrated Avonite all evening.
Both teams were a little tight in the early going. Seven minutes into the game, both teams were deadlocked 4-4.
After a 28-28 halftime stalemate, Homegrown had a 56-53 lead with 25.5 seconds to go. Dave Griego meshed a free throw, and Margarito Amaya added a pair of charity tosses with just 10 seconds to go to up Homegrown’s lead to 59-53. Griego sent Homegrown to the “A” tournament promised land with two more free throws to seal the win.
Eloy Medina led the winners with 19 points. Jose Bibian, who at 5-feet, 10-inches was a demon on the boards, added 17 points, and Griego added 14 in the well-rounded scoring team effort.
Shawn Baker scored 21 points, Tony Valencia had 14 and Willie Sanchez added 12 for Avonite.
Al’s/Husky/Sunrise Builders 61
In the final contest prior to the championship games on Monday, April 8, Avonite and Tony Valencia wasted no time in devasting Al’s. Valencia scored Avonite’s first six points on transitions and the rout was on.
Avonite rolled to a 41-25 first half lead, nearly doubling Al’s in rebounds and wrecking the Builders with a cat-like quickness in transition offense.
Valencia, who pumped in 33 points, led the charge with 17 first-half points. Valencia put the exclamation point on the proceedings with two final monstrous dunks.
The lead ballooned to 67-37 at the 11:53 mark, as Shawn Baker — this year’s LLMBA Most Valuable Player — got red-hot from beyond the arc, rifling in four second-half 3-pointers.
Baker finished with 24 points and 84 in Avonite’s three-game playoff excursion. Rick Ortega added 14, and Willie Sanchez 13.
Al’s, who fell to Homegrown, made a valiant trek in the losers’ bracket with wins over Heritage Title, 79-61, and No. 2 seed Douglas Construction, 88-86, in overtime.