Taos edged Valencia in a 53-50 thriller to advance to the second round of the state tournament.
Taos trailed the Jaguars (16-13, 4-4) for much of the game. In the first quarter, Valencia junior Jacob Mattox hit four 3s, propelling the Jags to a comfortable 27-19 lead at the half.
However, the Jags never could put the game quite out of reach. Taos kept the score within single-digits and brought the game within one point late in the fourth. With 22 seconds left, Taos senior Derreck Chacon hit a 3 to put the Tigers up 52-50. A Taos free throw put them up 53-0, a lead they would maintain for the rest of the game.
Mattox led all scorers with 18 points.
Though disappointed in the loss, Valencia head coach Josh Mattox found a silver lining in this season’s performance.
“This is one of the best seasons Valencia has ever had,” said Mattox. “It’s unfortunate it ended up this way. I feel like we underachieved a little bit.”
The Jaguars have qualified for the tournament in past seasons, but this was the first season in which they hosted a first-round game. Mattox hopes his squad will improve on their execution during the offseason.
Top-seeded Los Lunas advanced to the second round of the state tournament after a 57-42 win over the visiting Artesia.
“It’s always a relief to get this first game out of the way,” said Los Lunas head coach Travis Julian.
The Tigers (25-3, 8-0) hit the ground running, doubling the Bulldogs’ score in the first quarter with a 20-9 lead.
Led by senior Zanen Zeller’s 18 first-half points, Los Lunas cruised to a 33-20 lead heading into the third quarter. They maintained that steady lead for the rest of the game.
“That’s an experience thing,” said Julian. “That’s (Zeller) being a leader and a kid we have a lot of trust in.”
Zeller finished with 23 points, leading all scorers Saturday afternoon.
For an update on the Los Lunas vs. Taos quarterfinal game, visit news-bulletin.com.