Younger Rattlers step up in 65-33 victory

Thomas Garcia

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.