ALBUQUERQUE — Los Lunas boys basketball pounced through the quarterfinals of the state basketball tournament, beating Taos 66-46 on Wednesday afternoon.

“I think the kids’ toughness showed through,” said Los Lunas head coach Travis Julian. “We talk a lot about being a tougher team. They don’t wear down. They tend to get stronger as the game wears on.”

Los Lunas (26-3, 8-0) came out strong, leading 18-10 at the end of the first quarter. They extended their lead to double digits after junior Bryce Santana dropped 9 points in the second quarter, propelling the lead to 35-24 at halftime. When the final buzzer sounded, Los Lunas was up 20 points — one of their largest leads of the day.

Santana finished the game with 10 points, and was one of four Los Lunas players to reach double digits in their point total. Senior Darius Haywood dropped 18 points, senior Joe Dominguez put up 12 points and senior AJ Garcia chipped in with 11.

“We always want to run a good offense,” said Julian. “When they got off to that fast start, it’s an example of the confidence these kids have. When it’s game time, it’s game time…they’re to go play.”

Senior Darius Haywood prepares to take a couple of free throw shots on Wednesday afternoon.
Dustan Copeland | News-Bulletin photo

Haywood and Taos sophomore Abdul Khweis tied as game leaders in point total.

Los Lunas will face the winner of the Del Norte vs. Gallup game in the semifinals. This won’t be the Tigers’ first trip to the semis in recent memory. Last season, Los Lunas fell 50-41 to Belen — the eventual state champions. Senior Zanen Zeller and Julian said they are more confident going into the seminal game this year.

“I think we’re definitely more confident considering what happened last year and how much we’ve grown since last year,” said Zeller.

The semifinal game, held at Dreamstyle Arena in Albuquerque, will begin at 6:30 p.m., Thursday.

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Dustan Copeland