By Eric Butler: QCS Correspondent
ALBUQUERQUE — Logan boys basketball coach Billy Burns may have some bad memories about the 2005 Class 1A quarterfinals. Specifically, visions of Animas sinking 3-pointer after 3-pointer occasionally dance through his mind.
But the Longhorns provided the same kind of bad medicine to Quemado on Wednesday night. Not with the trey, necessarily, but with proficient free throw shooting did Logan knock off the Eagles 69-64 in an opening round game in Albuquerque.
In Albuquerque, this time, Josh Franco, a 5-foot, 6-inch senior, made some key clutch shots as Logan (25-4) pulled away in the fourth quarter over the Eagles.
At the end of the third, Franco grabbed a rebound and made a
whirling-dervish underhanded shot in the lane to give the Longhorns a 48-44
advantage. Two Drew Perez free throws for Logan moved the lead up to six points.
But Quemado (19-13), with a 7-0 run, went ahead 51-50 in the early moments of the final period. It was then that Franco bombed in a 3-pointer from the top of the key to reclaim the lead for the Longhorns – an advantage Logan would not give up again.
“The one (Quemado) guy told me it wasn’t going in, when I shot it,” Franco recalled. “I didn’t say anything back to them. I try not to.”
The free throw shooting of Franco and Perez did all the necessary talking down the stretch. While Quemado, led by Eric Candelaria’s 23 points, was able to hit shots in the closing minutes, the Longhorns kept a cushion in large part to charity stripe efficiency. Perez, the game’s leading scorer with 25, hit all but the last of his 16 free throw attempts while Franco connected on all four of his tries. Jake Abercrombie, a 6-foot-2 post player for Logan, finished with 21 points and converted nine of his 15 free throw shots as well.
“Josh, Drew and Jake all stepped up. We had some big moments we had to have and Josh hit some big shots,” Logan coach Billy Burns said.
The Eagles, who got 13 points from Riley Leyba and 10 more from Keith Walker, held leads through most of the first three quarters.
“It’s disappointing that we lost, but we had a good season because we made it to state,” said Candelaria, who also blocked a couple of shots for Quemado. “There’s only eight teams out of 45 in 1A that make it, so of course it’s an honor to be here. I hate to go down the way we did, but we gave it our all.”
Perez, who scored only six points in the first half, was instrumental in helping Logan claw back from a one-time nine-point deficit. Trailing 38-29 in the third, a bucket by the Longhorns’ Saul Acosta was followed by a baseline 3-pointer by Perez. After a Quemado turnover, Perez – falling back away from the goal – banked in another three and the Longhorns were down by only a point.
Logan, the third-seed, will play second-seed Magdalena in the semifinal round today. The game is scheduled for 8:30 p.m., also at Del Norte.
“Coming up here last year we had pretty much the same group. We lost a couple of seniors off last year’s team, but for the most part we had the same core group back again,” said Burns, looking back at last year’s quarterfinal loss – without regret. “That was big, having that experience.”
LOGAN 69, QUEMADO 64
Quemado (19-13) Eric Candelaria 23, Riley Leyba 13, Keith Walker 10, Julian
Lyons 8, Dustin Roper 7, Devin Fowler 2. Totals 25 10-20 64.
Logan (25-4) Drew Perez 25, Jake Abercrombie 21, Josh Franco 12, Saul Acosta
8, Austin Whetten 3. Totals 18 29-38 69.
Quemado 17 16 14 17 – 64
Logan 13 14 23 19 – 69
3-point FG: L 4 (Franco 2, Perez 2); Q 4 (Leyba 2, Roper, Walker). Fouls: L
19; Q 23. Fouled Out: Q, Roper, Leyba.