By William Thompson
The Tucumcari boys basketball team dropped Raton in overtime on Saturday, but suffered losses Friday and Tuesday.
Santa Rosa 49, Tucumcari 45
It was a close, hard-fought game throughout as both teams exchanged short leads. Santa Rosa held on, hitting free throws late to win.
The Rattlers had the early lead but the Lions came back to tie it at 13 at the end of the first quarter. Each team scored just seven points in the second quarter as both teams were trading turnovers.
Santa Rosa went up by as much as eight points in the third quarter as the Lions answered every Tucumcari rally.
Rattler Chris McCasland gave hope to the Tucumcari faithful in the fourth quarter, scoring once on a three-point play and hitting a jumper from the foul line to bring Tucumcari within striking distance at 40-37.
Late turnovers and fouls spelled defeat for Tucumcari as the Lions made some free throws down the stretch.
Tucumcari 64, Raton 59
The Rattlers beat the Tigers Saturday in overtime. Rattler Nathan McDonald scored six points in overtime and finished as the team’s second-highest scorer with 12 points. Tucumcari Head Coach John Span said McDonald was valuable in “crashing the boards” throughout the game.
McDonald said he felt the heat in the overtime period.
“It was really hard to keep my composure,” McDonald said. “Our guys kept encouraging one another though.”
Span said the Rattlers’ defense was also key in the overtime period.
“We stepped up the defense a little bit,” Span said. “When we scored we were able to go to the full-court press, which set up some steals.”
Raton held a slim lead throughout most of the third quarter but Rattler Nemi Salvador tied the game at 35 with a layup just before the final period of regulation.
With four minutes left in regulation play, a Raton player hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 47-47. Raton went up 51-50 with a minute left.
Salvador, who went scoreless in a recent loss against Fort Sumner, finished with a team-high 14 points against Raton.
Texico 73, Tucumcari 54
Coach Span said Texico was the toughest team his Rattlers have faced this season. Texico began pulling away in the second quarter and went up by over 20 points in the second half.
“Texico is undefeated, and now I know why,” Span said. “When you man up on them to stop the threes they post up inside and beat you that way.”
Salvador was high scorer for the Rattlers with 22 points, many of them coming in the second half with the game out of reach.
“You’ve got to play for pride when you’re down by that much,” Salvador said. “Our guys seemed a little tired tonight. Texico is a solid team.”