The Belen boys would come away with a season sweep over the Valencia Jaguars on Saturday night at VHS.
In a contest delayed one day due to the winter storm that hit Valencia County, a large crowd packed into the VHS gym to take in the action.
Early on, forward Daniel Corrales would leave with a knee injury and would not return for the Eagles. The game would go back and forth, with Belen taking a 16-14 halftime lead.
In the second half, and his team struggling to find offense, Brody Jaquez took over for Belen, scoring 14 of his team high 16 points in the second 16 minutes. However, it was a freshman that would make the ultimate difference.
With 32 seconds to play, and the contest tied at 50-50, Luis Garcia found a wide open Damian Avila, and the freshman guard would splash in his fourth three-point basket of the game to give the Eagles a 53-50 lead.
Valencia was not done though, as a quick Damian Estrada bucket cut the lead to 53-52 with 17 seconds to go.
After Belen made just one of two free throws, Valencia had a chance to tie or take the lead, down 54-52.
With seven seconds to play, Estrada opted to try and tie the ball game. His free-throw line jumper would hit iron, but the ball bounced right to Ali Abdullah, who promptly threw the ball back up as time expired. His shot would swing around the rim and pop out, securing the win for Belen.
“We knew it was going to be tough playing here at Valencia,” Belen coach Donald Marquez said after the game. “This was big. Losing Daniel to injury and Dalton (Bland) fouling out, to overcome that and win is big for us. But hats off to this crowd; they showed up tonight.”
Avila would end with 12 points for Belen, while Damian Estrada had 18 points and Fernando Enriquez scored 15 points for Valencia.
Earlier in the week, the Belen boys got a 51-44 victory on the road against Grants. Corrales had 24 points in that win for the Eagles.
The winning streak was short lived, however, as Belen fell 54-37 to Highland on Monday night. That dropped their record to 14-9 overall and 3-3 in district play.
Belen will have the rest of the week off before playing St. Pius next Tuesday night.
Valencia fell earlier in the week to top ranked Highland, by a final of 68-52. That loss coupled with the Belen loss gives the Jaguars a 5-17 record overall and 0-5 in district play.
Valencia will play at St. Pius and then host Grants in this week’s action.
On Friday night, the girls battle for Valencia County was not as close as the boys contest went.
Fueled by a balanced output, Lady Jaguars completed the season sweep over the Lady Eagles, winning on Friday night by a final of 49-15.
Early on, both teams would struggle offensively, with Valencia clinging to a 4-2 lead for much of the first quarter.
Then, over the final two minutes of the quarter Valencia would put together a 6-0 scoring run, four point coming from Elena Lucero, to take a 10-2 lead.
In the second quarter Valencia’s Bailey O’Conner would score five of her 9 points for the game to lead Valencia to a 20-7 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, the Lady Jaguars would take command of the contest and put it out of reach for good.
After being held to just 2 points in the first half, Jadyn Montoya would explode for 9 points in the third quarter as Valencia outscored Belen 20-2 in the quarter to take a commanding 40-9 lead.
With the lead well in hand, the Lady Jaguars would cruise through the fourth quarter to pick up the much needed victory.
Montoya would end with 11 points, as well as Lauren Barela, while Lucero had 10 points in the win for Valencia.
“It was good to get back into the win column,” Valencia coach Micaela Medina said after the game. “We will get one of our best players back this week, so we’re excited for the stretch run.”
The Lady Jaguars will play host to St. Pius this week and then travel to Grants on Friday night.
For Belen, Maesyn Lopez would score 10 points in the loss.
Earlier in the week, the Lady Eagles lost to Grants by a final of 64-34. Overall now, Belen is 1-20 on the season and 0-5 in district play.
The Lady Jaguars, meanwhile, fell to Highland at home earlier in the week by a final of 57-28. That loss dropped Valencia out of the district lead. They are now 14-8 overall and 4-1 in district 5-4A play following the win over Belen.
Los Lunas basketball
The Los Lunas Tigers boys basketball team scored another couple of wins during the week.
The first was one of the more exciting contests of the season for Los Lunas, as they hosted Albuquerque High School.
Down to the Bulldogs with time running out, Ezra Guest came off a screen and received a pass and hit a jumpshot with two seconds left to lift the Tigers to a 56-55 victory over Albuquerque High, much to the delight of the hometown fans.
In that contest, Jalin Holland had 23 points and eight rebounds, while Jamian Perez added 11 points in the victory.
Los Lunas then extended their winning streak to six games on Friday night, blowing out Manzano, 93-57.
Holland would once again lead the way in scoring for LLHS, with 26 points. Perez added another 23 points in the win.
The Tigers are now 14-8 overall and 6-0 in district 5-5A competition.
Los Lunas will have two games this week, one that will decide first place in the district. That contest is against Santa Fe, with the Demons out to seek revenge for their earlier season loss to the Tigers.
The Tigers will then end the week by hosting Capital on Friday night.
The Los Lunas girls basketball team split their games over the week.
First, the Lady Tigers matched up with district leader Albuquerque High, with a chance to take control of the district lead.
Unfortunately, a late spurt from the Lady Bulldogs put them over the top for the win by a final of 41-39.
Los Lunas would be able to bounce back, however, as they hosted Manzano on Saturday and were able to come away with a 53-41 victory.
That win pushes the Lady Tigers overall record to 6-15 and kept them alive in the district race with a record of 4-2.
Los Lunas will have two games this week. Starting off will be a home game with Santa Fe, then on Friday, the Lady Tigers will square off with Capital up in Santa Fe.
Los Lunas wrestling
The District Duals scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Feb. 2, was canceled due to the winter storm that hit Valencia County.
The Tigers were slated to take on Albuquerque and Manzano that day. Those matches will now be made up this week prior to the district championships.
The girls will have their district championship meet this week down in Socorro on Thursday night, while the boys will have theirs in Los Lunas on Saturday morning.
The Eagles will be at Valencia to start the week, and then will end the week at the district championships in Belen this week.
Valencia wrestling lost Monday night to St. Pius by a final of 36-33.
The Jaguars saw wins for Hyrum Burgess in the 120-pound category, Anthony Cano in the 145-pound category, Quinn Burgess in the 170-pound category, Elijah Duran in the 195-pound category, Omar Estrada at 220 pounds and Andrew Rightley in the 285-pound category.
The Jaguars will take on Highland this week, then the girls will be in Socorro for the district championships and the boys will be in Belen for their district championships.
Adam Evarts is a graduate of the University of New Mexico where he studied journalism and history. He has lived in Valencia County most of his life. Adam covers sports for the Valencia County News-Bulletin, including prep competitions for the three local high schools, Senior Olympics, rodeo, Little League and more.