By Eric Butler: QCS
The way Fort Sumner was drilling 3-pointers to start the game, some from 22 feet away, the Foxes seemed poised to bomb Tucumcari into submission in the finals of the Route 66 boys
basketball holiday tournament on Saturday.
But like the tortoise waiting for the hare to tire, the host Rattlers had a little something up their collective sleeve — namely, a patient offensive attack and a bothersome half-court defensive scheme.
Tucumcari (5-3), for the second year in a row, knocked off Fort Sumner (3-1) in the finals of its own tournament. This time, the Rattlers won by a 60-53 count after recovering from an early 17-8 deficit.
“I knew they shoot the ball well,” Tucumcari coach John Span said. “That’s what they do and they do a good job of it. Anytime we play them, he (Fort Sumner coach Wes Weems) knows what I’m going to do and I know what he’s going to do.
“It’s just a matter of our kids making adjustments and making plays,” Span added. “Tonight, I guess we did a little better job than they did.”
The Foxes jumped out to a 7-0 lead to start the game as Jarrod Gauna hit a 3-pointer and Jeremy Gauna scored a field goal and a couple of free throws. Tucumcari responded with four points of its own, but Jarrod Gauna and Matt Sena answered that for Fort Sumner with long-range 3s as the visitors built their nine-point advantage.
But the lead never got to double digits as Tucumcari, behind the guard play of Jeremy Lopez and Gabriel Anaya, hung around the rest of the first half.
Anaya, with two seconds left in the half, scored his first three when his shot clanged high off the back rim but fell clean through to tie the game at 25-25 — the first time Fort Sumner had not held the lead since scoring first.
Lopez, also in the second quarter, penetrated into the teeth of the Foxes’ defense and zipped passes to the likes of senior Alex White and junior Josh Villegas for buckets.
“He did a good job of breaking their defense down and creating some opportunities for our big kids inside,” said of Lopez.
Anaya, who scored 17 points, knocked home two more 3s in the third quarter as Tucumcari gradually gained control.
Villegas, stymied early inside by the likes of 6-6 Fort Sumner center Matthew West, began to score more regularly in the second half to tally a total of 15 points.
“He swatted me a couple of times over there,” said Villegas. “I should have pump-faked him and I would have had the shot. But he’s a little tall.”
Fort Sumner was led by Jeremy Gauna’s 19 points while Sena added 11 for the Foxes.
“Tucumcari started out in a 2-3 zone and I kind of expected that, so we were prepared to shoot from outside,” Fort Sumner coach Wes Weems said. “We talked about how they would eventually go into their 2-2-1 half-court trap. We just, for some reason, lost our composure there and never regained it.”
The Rattlers began the Route 66 tourney by defeating Mountainview 80-49 on Thursday before getting by Elida 69-61 in the semifinals on Friday.
The Tucumcari-Fort Sumner series isn’t quite done with this season. The two teams also met earlier in the year, with Fort Sumner winning by six points, and will play again on the Foxes’ home court.
In the meantime, the Rattlers will next play Tularosa in the Santa Rosa Holiday Tournament — the day after the Christmas break is over.
ROUTE 66 HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT BOYS CHAMPIONSHIP
TUCUMCARI 60, FORT SUMNER 53
Fort Sumner (3-1) Jeremy Gauna 19, Matt Sena 11, Jarrod Gauna 10, Stephen Gallegos 4, Brenton Williamson 3, Richard Canales 2, Derek Dimitroff 2, Matthew West 2. Totals 17 12-17 53.
Tucumcari (5-3) Gabriel Anaya 17, Josh Villegas 15, Jeremy Lopez 10, Nathan McDonald 10, Alex Page 5, Drew White 2, Andrez Apodaca 1. Totals 18 20-37 60.
Fort Sumner 17 8 10 18 – 53
Tucumcari 8 17 16 19 – 60
3-point FG: T 4 (Anaya 3, Lopez); FS 7 (Sena 3, Jarrod Gauna 2, Gallegos, Jeremy Gauna). Fouls: T 19; FS 28. Fouled Out: T, White; FS, Jarrod Gauna, Canales, Williamson. Technical Foul: FS, Dimitroff.