The Los Lunas Men’s Basketball Association took on its own version of March Madness as “A” (double elimination) and “B” (single elimination) playoff contests began last Sunday at the Daniel Fernandez Youth Center gym.
In “A” playoff action, fourth-seeded No Doubt (8-5) got a sterling 40-point performance from 29-year-old stellar guard Jaime Williams en route to an 85-71 win over the fifth-seeded Heritage Title Crusaders (8-5).
Williams, fifth in league scoring at 22 points per game, pumped in 23 of his 40 tallies in the second half, including four crucial free throws with under a minute left that helped seal the victory for ND.
Leading 73-71 with 51.7 seconds remaining, ex-Albuquerque High post Bryce Smith scored on an old-fashion 3-point play for No Doubt with a driving layup and a free throw.
Heritage Title’s Damien Campbell picked up a costly technical foul. Williams, a 74 percent free-throw shooter, calmly sank both tosses and added another pair of free throws to break the Crusaders’ back, pushing the lead to 81-70.
“That technical foul put it out of reach,” Williams said. “The key was getting the rebounds, and Bryce had a lot. Our team’s success is when our big guys get the boards.”
Demoralized, the Crusaders failed to score during the remainder of the contest. No Doubt closed out the scoring with a 12-0 run, sending Heritage Title to the losers’ bracket to face Al’s/Husky/Sunrise on Monday, April 1.
Smith scored 20 of his 26 points in the second half to give ND a potent 1-2 scoring punch. Rob Gallegos added 10 points. The Crusaders, minus their big men Avery Cheeks and Dustin Romero, fired in 13 3-pointers. Jon Baca had eight treys. He and Eric Griego had 26 points in the loss.
No Doubt played top-seeded Avonite on Tuesday (no score was available at News-Bulletin press time).
Williams, concerned with Avonite’s lethal offense led by Shawn Baker, added “We’re going to need JoJo (Brooks) and Jim (Armijo) to show up. We just need to play together and (know) our roles to help our team.”
Jose Bibian and Jason Caldwell scored 26 and 25 points respectively to give third-seeded Homegrown (10-3) a hard-fought victory over sixth-seeded Al’s/Husky/Sunrise Builders (7-6) in the other opening “A” tourney action.
Homegrown, the defending “A” champions, trailed Al’s, 40-36, at the half but kicked its run ‘n’ gun offense into high gear after the intermission, out-scoring Al’s 49-28. A 14-3 run to begin the second half erased the deficit and pushed Homegrown’s lead to 50-43. The lead grew steadily in the waning minutes of the game.
Al’s Charles Booker and Evan Grain inflicted the damage against Homegrown in the first 20 minutes. Booker, a slick ‘n’ quick 5-foot-7-inch sharpshooter, banged in five 3-pointers and 17 first-half points. Grain added 16. But the duo managed only a combined 12 points after intermission.
Caldwell found long-rang to his liking in the second half, firing in three 3-pointers and 17 points, while Bibian cashed in on 14 markers. He and Caldwell battled the taller Grain and Malik Waters on the boards, grabbing their fair share of caroms that sparked Homegrown’s transition offense.
Margarito Amaya and Dave Griego added 14 points apiece for Homegrown. Grain led Al’s with 24 points. Waters and Booker each scored 21 points. The trio accounted for all but two of Al’s points.
Homegrown met second-seeded Douglas Construction on Tuesday (no score was available at News-Bulletin press time). Al’s faces Heritage Title in a losers’ bracket game on Monday.
ABC Mortgage 66
Oak Tree Inn 52
Chris Johnson whipped in 25 points to help third-seed ABC Mortgage (4-9) to an opening “B” tourney victory over sixth-seeded Oak Tree Inn.
The Mortgage Men, who fell to Youngblood in last year’s semifinal, geared their offense towards a low-post attack, and Johnson responded by scoring all of his points in the paint.
ABC led 35-29 at the half, but maintained its lead and increased its advantage late in the second half. Richard Johnson, who added three 3-pointers, scored 15 points, and Roberto Silva added 12 for the winners. Oak Tree’s Shawn Dawson led his team with 14 points. Tommy Yerington and Michael Dawson scored 10 points apiece. Oak Tree ends its disappointing season at 2-11.
With the win, ABC faces the second-seeded Albuquerque Bombers at 7:15 p.m. Thursday. The two teams split wins during league play.
Los Lunas-Belen Ballers 81
The upstart fourth-seeded Los Lunas-Belen Ballers (4-9) sent defending “B” champion Youngblood (5-8) to an early exit, thanks to four Ballers who scored in double figures.
Steady Jeremiah Cordova paced the Ballers with 22 points, and Marquis Walker — filling in for the injured Matt Goodson — drove the lane for 21 markers. Leason Cherry added 17 points, and Scott Blair contributed 12.
Leading 38-31 at halftime, the Ballers — behind Walkers’ six tallies and Tim Hanks’ 3-pointer, jumped out to a commanding 47-33 advantage at the 17:43 mark. Three consecutive Youngblood turnovers, and a blocked shot by the Ballers’ Blair, fueled the uprising.
The Ballers increased their lead to 51-33 before Youngblood fought back behind a 3-point barrage by Vince Pino. Pino scored a game-high 24 points and connected on 4 of 6 3-pointers in the second half. Pat Mares added 16 points, and Ron Brooks chipped in 13.
Youngblood’s spurt was short-lived as the Ballers regrouped and upped their lead to 70-48 with six minutes remaining.
The Ballers have their toughest test when they face top-seeded Lone Mountain Contracting (last year’s “A” tourney runners-up) at 8:25 p.m. on Thursday.