Friday’s game against Santa Rosa was not decided until the final minutes, but Tucumcari fell short at home, 71-60.
A large, vocal crowd was on hand to watch the heated rivalry between the two I-40 foes. Early on the Santa Rosa fans had much to cheer about as the Lions took a quick 5-0 lead.
The Rattlers’ Ray Johnson, who scored 20 points, put Tucumcari on the board with a three pointer. On the Rattlers’ next possession, Justin Galvan tipped the ball in to tie the game. Joe Aragon scored next to put the Rattlers ahead.
Santa Rosa answered with a bucket, then a Lion hit a lay up to put Santa Rosa ahead for good. With a little over a minute left in the first quarter, Santa Rosa doubled up on Tucumcari, 14-7. Tucumcari managed only one more basket before the second quarter.
The Lions steadily increased their lead in the second quarter. They had an answer for almost every Tucumcari basket.
Tucumcari trailed 31-17 at the half, but Head Coach John Span had his team ready to play at the start of the third quarter. Rattler Nemi Salvador drove the ball to the hoop from half-court, then Santa Rosa turned the ball over. Joe Aragon sank a quick three. The Lions’ coach quickly called timeout.
The Tucumcari fans roared, sensing a comeback, but it was not to be. Santa Rosa was up by thirteen, 49-36, by the end of the third. Tucumcari may have been a little road weary. They had just gotten back in town after midnight the previous evening from a game at Floyd.
Tucumcari could get only as close as nine points the rest of the way. The Lions made key shots while the Rattlers struggled. Coach Span did not try to downplay the loss.
“It’s a big loss for us. Our district race is very tight. We have got to take care of our home games”, he said.
Tucumcari plays Santa Rosa again Feb. 3. Span said he remains hopeful about his teams chances.
“Some of our shots didn’t go down at the end, but we’ll play better next time.”
Santa Rosa 14 17 18 22
Tcum 9 8 19 24
Tucumcari: Matt Braziel 6, Nick Wiegel 1, Nemie Salvador 2,
Joseph Aragon 13, Chris Mccasland 3, Ray Johnson 20, Felimon Chavez 11, Justin Galvan 4.
Santa Rosa: Eric Sandoval 26, Joaquin Gonzales 7, Brian Chavez 12, Joey Urban 11, Tomas Gonzales 15.