By TV Hagenah
A good way to end a year for a sports team is to win and to win your own tournament is even better still. For that reason, The Tucumcari boys basketball team is a happy group of athletes. This year their stockings held the championship trophy for the 2003 Route 66 Holiday Tournament held over the weekend.
After their crushing win over Elida Thursday, the Rattlers came up against in their semi-final round a much tougher Manaul squad on Friday evening who battled the Tucumcari team until the last moments of the game which saw it go in the Rattler’s direction 60-64.
At no time in the first three quarters did either team take a commanding lead. Menaul lead by two at the end of the first period but Tucumcari scrambled back and tied it up. At the half at the end of the third period Menaul was once again up by two.
So fierce was the battle that one of Tucumcari key players, Nemi Salvador was sidelined with an injured ankle at half time. Still the Rattlers managed to hold the hard charging Elida team to only nine points in the final quarter.
On Saturday, in the championship game, head coach John Span was certain that his boys could win, but admitted it could be a daunting task as they faced the third rated team in the state and since Tucumcari was minus Salvador with the injured ankle.
“But they came through,” said Span. “They pulled together and came through. I was very impressed with them. They’re a great bunch.”
In fact, Tucumcari seemed to have less trouble with the highly-rated Questa team than they did Menaul the day before as they beat Questa 90-85.
At no time in the Saturday evening contest did Tucumcari ever trail Questa and even outscored Questa 24-12 in the first quarter. In fact only in the second period did Questa even outscore the Rattlers.
Menual 14 17 20 9=60
Tucum 12 19 18 15=64
Tucumcari: Nemie Salvador 2, Larry Roybal 2, Joseph Aragon 18, Chris McCasland 15, Harsh Patel 5, Ray Johnson 11, Felimon Chavez 4, Justin Galvan 4.
Menual: Joey Gutierrez 9, Mike Zieminski 5, Dominic Cadena 24, Bernie Daileboust 12, Justin Montoys 6, Victor Lopez 4.
Questa 12 27 17 17=85
Tucum 24 21 20 18=90
Tucumcari: Matt Braziel 3, Larry Roybal 9, Joseph Aragon 19, Chris McCasland 17, Ray Johnson 15, Felimon Chavez 16, Justin Galvan 9.
Questa: Alan Besquez 14, Dale Cisneros 15, Justin Martinez 31, Robert Trujillo 14, Chris Ortega 2, Elias Rael 7.