The Los Lunas boys’ basketball team solidified their top spot in District 5-4A basketball with a 48-25 win over St. Pius on Friday night.
“It was a team focus,” said Los Lunas head coach Travis Julian. “We worked on a lot of on-the-ball defense and really tried to guard as a team.”
The Tigers (24-3, 8-0) controlled most of the game. Though they went into halftime leading the Sartans (15-12, 3-5) with a narrow 25-19 score, the Tigers never trailed.
A strong defensive effort in the third quarter kept St. Pius from scoring a single point as Los Lunas jumped to 34-19 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Sartans scored their only 6 points of the half in the final eight minutes, giving Los Lunas a comfortable 23-point lead heading as the final moments ticked away.
“I’m really happy with the way we defended,” said Julian. “We were able to hold them to 6 points in the second half — that’s pretty superb defensively.”
Senior Darius Haywood lead the Tigers with 12 points on the night. Fellow senior Zanen Zeller was named District 5-4A Player of the Year.
The NMAA State Tournament brackets were released on Sunday evening. The Tigers received the No. 1 seed, and will face Artesia in the first round.
Valencia (16-12, 4-4), whose head coach Josh Mattox was named District 5-4A Coach of the Year, received the No. 8 seed in the state tournament. The Jags will host Taos in the first round.
Los Lunas extended their winning streak to 20 games as they beat St. Pius 46-33 in the final round of the District 5-4A tournament on Saturday.
“It was a good game to have before state,” said Los Lunas head coach Marty Zeller. “But it showed we have work to do.”
The Lady Tigers (24-3, 8-0) maintained a mere 5-point lead in the first three quarters. However, that small margin wasn’t due to poor defense. The Lady Sartans (18-8, 5-3) were held to only 9 points in the first three quarters and a mere 6 points in the fourth.
In the fourth, the Lady Tigers extended the lead to 13 points, which was the largest lead of the game, and kept the Sartans out of reach as they coasted to the district tourney crown.
“We’ve got to get more physical,” said Zeller. “That’s something we’ll work on…but they stepped up from the free-throw line and with a few threes.”
Sophomore Natalie Jojola, who was also selected as District 5-4A Player of the Year, led the Lady Tigers with 17 points.
At the selection show on Sunday, the Lady Tigers were selected as the No. 2 seed. They’ll face Bernalillo in the first round of the state tournament.