QCS Senior Writer
The Logan Longhorns’ state tournament run ended with a heartbreaking 60-58 loss to the To’hajiilee Warriors Saturday at Logan.
“I am very proud of how the guys played,” said Rafel Roybal, Longhorns’ head coach.
Roybal said it may seem cliche but the idiom, “you win some, you lose some,” applies to this heartbreaking loss.
The Warriors and Longhorns players were not the only ones standing in the final minute of Saturday’s 1A state tournament game. Just about all the spectators on both sides of the stands were on their feet as the Warriors held onto a 57-55 lead. As the Warriors inbounded the ball, Longhorns senior Dennis Earle stole the ball and sunk a three-pointer, his fourth in the game, to give the Longhorns the lead.
The Warriors then lived up to their namesake as they advanced the ball with less than 40 seconds left and answered back with a clutch-contested field goal from their offensive leader and captain senior Seth Watuema.
Watuema had been the main scoring threat throughout the game, scoring 38 points alone, (10,5, 3-4). In the final period the Warriors only scored 10 points, eight of them by Watuema.
“This is a big step for us,” Wateuma said. “We just have to keep pushing forward.”
The Warriors’ lead was extended to two points after Treston Platero made 1-2 free throws. The Longhorns were forced into fouling the inbounded ball with only 10 second left in the game. Two errant loose ball turnovers had tied the Longhorn’s hands, forcing them to play off either the inbound following or a rebound of a missed free throw to gain position for a desperation shot to win the game.
As the final buzzer sounded, however, the hoisted half-court shot from Chris Roberts missed the mark and the game was over.
“We tried, we played with all that we had and didn’t give up,” Earle said.
Earle, overcome with emotion, was met outside of the locker room by family and friends.
Earle had 16-points in the game (1, 4, 2-4) and had been clutch for the Longhorns since early in the contest. He helped orchestrate a second period comeback to keep the Longhorns from falling back early to a stout Warriors scoring run.
From the very start of Saturday’s game, the Longhorns and Warriors engaged in a battle of inches, neither side giving way for long.
Late in the third period, the Warriors had an 11-point lead, their largest of the game, but the Longhorns steadily fought back to reduce the lead to a single digit. Leading the Longhorns’ comeback in the third was Wesley Gudgel who scored six points before fouling out on a blocking charge under the goal.
The Warriors’ Seth Wateuma “is such a humble leader of the team,” said Henry Marmon, Warriors’ head coach. “He is our Clydesdale and we are going to ride him all the way through the tournament.”
Marmon said the entire offense is aimed at getting the ball to Seth or feeding it through him to other players. He said while Seth knows the ball is coming his way he is always ready to pass it off to his fellow teammates if he feels they have a better chance of scoring or to get them involved in the game.
The Warriors will play on Wednesday against the 3 seed Hagerman Bobcats at Albuquerque.