Thursday, December 10, 2009

Socorro boys basketball team lose in overtime

Socorro—When winter arrives, people dust off their sweaters and jackets then try to get into the daily grind of cold weather and short days. For the Socorro boys basketball team, all it took was a pair of new shoes, a clean Warrior jersey, and a loud home crowd to warm up their winter season.
Socorro narrowly lost a thrilling opening game at home on Monday night to the undefeated Grants Pirates, 86-82 in overtime.
Socorro will have a busy week ahead playing 3 games in five days. Socorro will face off against the New Mexico Military Institute on Friday night, followed by Volcano Vista, who is ranked seventh in 4A, on Saturday night. On Tuesday, December 15 Socorro will host Pojoaque, who is ranked fourth in 3A.
Coming into Monday night’s game, Grants had already played 5 games and had a perfect 5-0 record, which included a win against Pojoaque. It was not only the Warriors first game of the season but it was first time Coach Lawrence Baca had a full team.
Socorro picked up five players from the State Runner-Up Warrior football team over the weekend. Two players wasted no time getting acquainted with the team.
Senior Andrew Contreras looked as is if he was immune to any basketball cobwebs during the off-season. In fact he looked like the seasoned veteran Coach Baca expected.
“Andrew is a great athlete!” Baca said of Contreras. “As he showed it out on the football field, he is very aggressive and moves very well for being such a big guy and is very basketball smart.”
Contreras made his presence known both on offense and defense. He put up a solid 18 points, had a couple steals and took a few charging fouls that disrupted the Grants offense.
“It was not a surprise that Andrew stepped up and had a big game, I know what he’s capable of doing and he showed it last night,” said Baca.
Junior Jared Marquez showed he has not lost his shooters touch during the off-season. He racked up a game high 21 points including four three-point baskets.
“I am very happy with the effort and energy they (Socorro) came out with on the first game of the season,” Baca said of the game. “If we can play with that kind of effort and energy night in and night out a lot of good things are going happen for us this season.”
Effort and energy was a constant in Monday’s see-saw battle. The game included nine lead changes and eight ties.
It was the Pirates that came out of the gate first, taking an early 6-1 lead in the first quarter. A sweet behind the back pass from Michael Contreras to Andrew Contreras gave the Warriors their first lead five minutes into the game. Socorro extended their lead after a three pointer by Kenneth DeCosta before Grants countered, eventually leading to a 16-16 first quarter tie.
The Pirates tried to separate themselves from the Warriors to start the second quarter going on a 12-4 run, extending their lead to the biggest of the game, 30-22. Marquez started a 10-1 Socorro run giving the Warriors the lead with 1:30 left in the first half. Grants struck back with a bucket and an old fashion three point play to give them a 36-32 halftime lead.
It was Socorro coming out of the locker room swinging taking the lead 49-42 with a minute left in the third quarter.
Perhaps one of the game changing moments came with 50 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
DeCosta was called for a technical foul following a shooting foul called on him. That gave Grants two technical free throws, two shooting free throws, and the ball. The Pirates hit all four free throws, followed by another shooting foul. Grants made one out of two for a quick five point swing cutting the Warrior lead to 49-47. A last second three by sophomore Humberto Lucero gave the Warriors a 52-47 lead going into the final quarter.
Socorro and Grants traded basket for basket for the first six minutes of the final quarter with Socorro leading 71-65 with 1:15 left to play in the game. Two costly Warrior turnovers with less than a minute left allowed Grants to capitalize going on a quick 7-0 run. Socorro found themselves down 77-74 with less than 10 seconds left.
Lucero was fouled beyond the three point arc with 1.4 seconds left and the fate of the Warriors first game rested in his young hands. Looking as if he was shooting free throws in the park, Lucero drilled all three to send the game into overtime.
Socorro was unable gain any more steam in the overtime period going scoreless for three minutes, giving Grants an 86-82 victory.
“You can say some turnovers were the deciding factors in the loss, but those are things that can and will be fixed as we get more time together and the team jells together,” said Baca. “I told them that I was very satisfied with the effort they gave and that there was nothing to be ashamed, we played a great game against a pretty darn good team… I saw a lot of great things out there from every single one of them and not to beat themselves up over the mistakes because those can and will be fixed with time.”

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