By William Thompson
Three-point shots gave the Tucumcari Rattlers a slim fourth-quarter lead over the Springer Red Devils on Saturday, but the Red Devils surged ahead to win 66-59.
Rattler Matt Braziel, who scored 21 points and hit some three-pointers along the way, shrugged off his three-point shooting.
“I’ll remember this loss more than I’ll remember my three-point shots,” Braziel said. “At the end we couldn’t hit our free throws.”
Springer led most of the game. Tucumcari fought back in the second half of the home game and appeared to have momentum.
“We let some opportunities get away from us,” Tucumcari Coach John Span said. “Every time we got something going, Springer answered it.”
Springer was in control of the game heading into the second quarter with a ten-point lead. A couple of Braziel’s three-pointers brought Tucumcari within striking distance, however.
Rattler fans were excited in the fourth quarter when Jeremy Lopez hit a three-pointer to put Tucumcari ahead 44-43.
With a little over a minute left in the final quarter, Springer got ahead on a three-pointer after Robert Munoz and Nathan McDonald hit shots to keep Tucumcari in the lead.
The Rattlers were forced to foul in the waning seconds.
Coach Span said a ten-day layoff before a Feb. 15 home game against Texico will give his players a chance to relax a bit.
“I see the layoff as kind of a breather for our guys,” Span said. “We will still practice but we’ll back off a little bit. We’ll have time to work on some fundamentals. The guys are in good shape, so there is less need to work on conditioning.”
Scoring by quarter
Tucumcari 7 17 22 13 = 59
Springer 17 11 18 20 = 66
M. Braziel 21, N. McDonald 6, C. McCasland 3, J. Lopez 3, N. Salvador 4, G. Anaya 4, R. Munoz 4, J. Villegas 4.