With a tuneup game against Class 1A Melrose before a district showdown against Clayton, a banged-up Tucumcari Rattlers squad had its younger players take center stage in a 65-33 victory Tuesday night over Melrose.
Mark Preciado, D'Ontee Sandoval and Marcus Chavez each had 11 for the Rattlers (10-8), who went without starters Travis Garcia and Michael Marroquin.
"We needed to see how they would step up and react in a game," Tucumcari coach John Span said. "It's good to know they can step up during game time. You see them do it all the time in practice, but practice doesn't always make it on the court come game time."
The Rattlers kept defensive pressure on the Buffaloes (10-11) throughout.
"They came out right away and hit us with the press," said Buffalos head coach Jim Doherty, who noted injury troubles for the Buffaloes as well. "This by far is the worst game we have had concerning ball handling."
Span said the way the younger players stepped up and applied the pressure shows him, they will be ready Friday to take on the Clayton Yellowjackets.
Span isn't sure if Garcia or Marroquin available Friday night.
"We are looking good if we don't," Span said. "The kids really stepped it up and took care of business."
Doherty said the Buffalos will have one day to prepare for a road trip to play at Logan.
"I told the kids we just have to put this behind us and prepare for the next game," Doherty said.
Lance Widner scored eight to lead the Buffaloes.
Melrose 65, Tucumcari 11
The Melrose Lady Buffs cruised to up their record to 19-1, taking advantage of 30 Lady Rattler turnovers.
"We are going to use this win to get ready for our district match up with the Lady Longhorns on Thursday," said Melrose head coach Toby Bostwick.
Cara Barnard scored 19 to lead three in double figures. Cassie Doherty added 15 and Caley Barnard 11 for Melrose.
Bostwick said he was pleased with the way the team ran the court, and expected an up-and-down contest with Logan.
"In some ways it's like a track meet," Bostwick said. "You just have to see whose legs will last the longest."
Heidi Strong led Tucumcari (3-13) with four points.