The season came to an end Friday in Artesia for the Valencia High School boys’ basketball team after a 60-38 loss to the Bulldogs in the opening round of the 4A Basketball State Championships.
“We hadn’t been in a state tournament game and a situation like that,” Jaguars coach Jesse Hathoot said about the experience. “Hopefully we can learn from it.”
VHS guard Mariano Perea scored five points in the first quarter as the teams exchanged leads. However, the Bulldogs started to pull away in the second eight minutes and were up 25-15 at the half.
“We missed some open looks,” Hathoot said about the struggles on offense.
After being held scoreless in the first half, Ali Abdullah had seven of the Jaguars’ nine third quarter points, but Artesia maintained a ten point advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Valencia tried to force the action, “we had to resort to full court pressure in the fourth quarter and we’re not very deep,” Hathoot said.
That’s when Artesia was able to pull away.
“Ultimately, you can’t have a bad night in March. We didn’t play our best. It sucks to go home.”
Valencia is already looking to the future. The Jaguars lose six seniors but Damien Estrada and Adam Madrid return.
“We’re very excited about our younger kids and very appreciative of these seniors. They demonstrated a culture of commitment,” said Hathoot, who just finished his second season as head coach.
Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.