Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tough teams, tough start

By Michael Olguin
For the Mountain Mail

SOCORRO -- After the first four games of the season, the Socorro boys basketball team finds itself 1-3 after a couple close games against some very competitive teams.
Socorro garnered its first win of the season on Friday night against the New Mexico Military Colts 71-50, followed by a loss against the 4A Volcano Vista Hawks, 65-44. The Warriors completed their four-game home game stint with a 62-50 loss against the fourth-ranked Pojoaque Elks.
“Losing games can be frustrating, but the team moral is fine,” Socorro coach Lawrence Baca said. “We’re still early on in the season, we just have to focus on getting better every game and fixing the things we need to fix. Right now we’re just making stupid mental mistakes, and we will limit some of those types of mistakes as we get a little more time together.”
Socorro will travel to Santa Fe on Friday night to take on the third-ranked St. Michaels’ Horsemen. Socorro will then travel to Pojoaque on Monday December 21 to compete in the Annual Ben Lujan Tournament. Socorro will match up against the fourth-ranked 4A Los Alamos Hilltoppers in the first round.
Last Friday night, the Warriors had no trouble handling the Colts (6-3) in the Warrior Dome. With the help of solid outside shooting, Socorro never relinquished their lead throughout the game. They went on to win 71-50. Jared Marquez led the Warriors with 19 points, followed by Erik Garcia with 17. Michael Contreras contributed 12 points in the winning cause.
Saturday, the Warriors matched up against a solid 4A team in the Hawks (4-4). A usual three pointer by Marquez early in the first quarter gave Socorro its only lead of the game at 5-4. The Hawks were able to regain the lead and build on it leading 17-11 after one quarter of play.
Marquez was the lone scorer in the second quarter for the Warriors, scoring 11 of his team high 22 points. It was not enough to overcome the Hawks as they went on to take a 37-22 halftime lead.
The Hawks continued to take advantage of the Warriors’ turnovers and never gave up their first half lead. They went on to win 65-44. One key factor in the game was an almost perfect 20 for 21 at the free throw line for the Hawks for an unbelievable 95 percent. Socorro was only able to muster up 8 free throw attempts, making 5.
Tuesday night looked to be an even matchup with the fourth ranked Elks (5-3). Two of their losses on the season came at the hands of the Grants Pirates, whom the Warriors narrowly lost to in overtime in the first game of the season.
Turnovers once again plagued the Warriors’ attempts on offense, giving the Elks easy transition baskets which gave way to an early 26-10 first quarter lead.
“We just a came out very slow and sluggish, and when you go down to a team like Pojoaque it is always going to be tough to come out on top,” said Baca.
It seemed like a tough task to dig themselves out of a hole against a team like the Elks. However, Socorro was up to the task. The Warriors slowly chipped away at the Elks’ early lead, eventually closing the gap to 37-31 after a last-second shot by Marquez to close out the first half.
“We dug ourselves a big hole but I know we are very capable of coming back and making this a game,” Baca said to his team at halftime. “It is going to take an all out effort from everyone for 16 minutes with no breaks.”
The Warriors came out of the locker room determined to prevent the Elks from stealing a win at home. Another three by Marquez tied the game at 45 about 5 minutes into the second half. The game remained within reach and after three quarters of play Socorro was only down 52-47.
Turnovers by Socorro allowed the Elks to score six easy points extending their lead to 58-47 early in the fourth quarter. It was too much for Socorro to over come and after some quality time management by the Elks they went on to win 62-50.
Marquez and Zach Esquivel each had 13 points followed by Garcia with 11.
“We just have to get mentally tough at this point,” said Baca. “We’re not going to change anything we are just going to keep busting our tails off in practice every day and focus on getting better every day. We have to understand that we have no time to take off and that we have to out work everybody everyday in practice”

Photo by John Severance: Socorro coach Lawrence Baca calls timeout in the first half of a loss to Pojoaque Tuesday night in Socorro.

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