The Los Lunas Tigers girls basketball team overcame a strong start from defending 5A champion West Mesa last Thursday to pull away for a 70-54 win.
The visiting Mustangs started fast, relying on the three point shot to stay ahead of the Tigers.
Early on, things were sloppy from Los Lunas as they struggled to hang on to the ball and were often forced to settle for contested shots.
After the first quarter of action, the Mustangs led 16-13.
Early in the second quarter, things followed a similar trajectory, with WMHS increasing the lead to as many as nine points at 22-13 before the Tigers began to battle back.
Over the rest of the first half and into the third quarter, the Tigers went on a tear, reeling off a 20-2 run, flipping the score from 22-13 to 33-24 in the Tigers’ favor.
LLHS outscored West Mesa 17-8 in the second quarter to help turn the game.
In the second half, frustration began to boil over on the Mustangs bench and in the stands.
The foul discrepancy, which saw the Mustangs whistled for twice as many fouls as the Tigers, 10 to five, was a major point of contention.
Things got out of control shortly thereafter when Tiger forward Feleena Gabaldon caught WMHS junior Monique Jackson with an elbow while battling for a rebound.
The incident seemed accidental, but Jackson had to leave the game to receive medical attention, though she later returned.
No foul was called on the play, which ended up resulting in official warnings being issued to both benches, stopping play.
While play was stopped, LLHS head coach Marty Zeller and WMHS head coach Manny Otero met at center court and had a heated discussion which resulted in the official giving both of them a technical foul and each team free throws.
From that point on, the Tigers ran away with things, stretching the lead to as many as 20 points.
Coach Otero would be issued a second technical in the fourth quarter after disagreeing with a call and was ejected from the game before the Tigers secured the win to improve to 2-2 on the year.
On Saturday, the Tigers returned to action at Highland High School, earning a 73-63 win and improving to 3-2.
LLHS took on Bloomfield on Tuesday, winning by a score of X-X and now will enjoy a nine day break before traveling to Kirtland Central at 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 19.
The Tigers are currently the No. 1 ranked team in Class 4A as voted by the coaches.