By Thomas Garcia
QCS senior writer
A last-second turnover by the Santa Rosa Lions clinched a 45-42 win for the Tucumcari Rattlers Tuesday night at the Snake Pit.
With less than 10 seconds left in the District 4-2A tournament boys game, Lions forward Jason Sanchez saw Robert Zamora alone at the 3-point line. Zamora had hit two-three pointers in the final period and was positioned to tie the game.
Rushing to beat the clock, Sanchez overthrew Zamora.
“The turnovers hurt us,” said Lions head coach Joseph Esquibel.
Esquibel said good ball control comes down to experience and maturity.
“They’re young, but they working to get better,” Esquibel said.
The Rattlers were leading 41-40 with less than a minute left in the game when senior Luke Smith grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled as scored on the putback.
“I knew I had to go up strong and make the shot,” Smith said. “They had controlled the glass on defense and I knew we had to have the rebound.”
On the following possession, Marcus Lopez scored a quick layup bringing the Lions within two points.
Rattler D’ontee Sandoval was fouled as he shot, he made 1-of-2 from the free throw line giving the Rattlers a three-point cushion.
“It was an ugly win,” said Rattlers head coach John Span. “We gave them way to many second- and third-chance shots. Those can be big if made.”
Span said the team will work on ball control and rebounding as they prepare for the Texico Wolverines Thursday at Texico.
“We just have to go in there and see what happens,” Span said. “We know it is going to be tough, but the team looks forward to the challenge.”
Smith said rebounding will be one of the keys to beating the Wolverines.
“We need to play with a lot of energy,” Tucumcari’s Travis Garcia said. “We have to come out strong and finish strong.”