QCS Senior Writer
As players, coaches and fans watched the basketball sail through the air, the last thing Tucumcari High School Rattlers head coach John Span said he heard before the buzzer sounded and crowd erupted Saturday night was, “It’s in, coach!”
Those words were spoken to Span by Rattlers John Paul Garcia seconds before he made the game winning 3-pointer against the Santa Rosa Lions in overtime at the Snake Pit.
“I went blank as the shot went in,” Garcia said.
Garcia, who led the Rattlers with 31 points, was swarmed by his teammates and fans after his final shot clinched the district win.
“I had confidence from the free throws I had made earlier and from Coach Span that I could make the shot,” Garcia said.
Earlier in the overtime, Garcia had made a 3-pointer and all six free throws to help put the Rattlers into a 78-78 tie with Lions.
The Lions had possession of the ball with 4.3 second remaining in the period. Santa Rosa was in position for a potential score and upset win or control the ball and send the game into a second overtime.
However, a double dribble call against the Lions with 2.4 seconds remaining gave the ball back to the Rattlers on their side of the court.
Span said he called a timeout to get the players to focus and discuss a plan to try and take the win.
Garcia did just that when his shot, well outside the three point arch, hit nothing but net.
“We were fortunate tonight, especially with how the game started to come away with the win,” Span said.
Midway through the first period the Lions had a 17-5 lead that they continued to build on to end the period 28-13.
“It was a good thing that it was early when they started to run away with the game,” Span said. “It gave our guys time to gather themselves and make a comeback.”
The Rattlers, 14-5,3-0, outscored the Lions 26-15 in the second period and shrunk the Lions’ lead to four points. They did with scoring from Zedric Henderson Greene who scored nine of his 15 points that period and Daniel Lopez who made two 3-pointers, one of them at the buzzer.
“It helped give us confidence going into halftime,” Lopez said.
The Rattlers’ confidence was tested in the second half with Greene and Saul Ramos fouling out putting stress on the inside post position.
The Lions attacked the basket and continued to draw fouls but the Lions were unable to capitalize on their free throw opportunities. The Lions were 15 for 32 from the free throw line.
The Rattlers now must prepare for the second round of district play on Thursday as they play host to the Clayton Yellowjackets at the Snake Pit.
“We will get back into the weight room and watch film next week and be ready to play on Thursday,” Span said.
Game Time: 7 p.m., Thursday at the Snake Pit.
The Lady Rattlers 13-7, 2-1, overcame early turnovers to run away with a 58-36 win Saturday night against the Lady Lions at the Snake Pit.
“We just need to slow down make better passes and take care of the ball,” said Lady Rattler Kaycee Lease.
In their win over Santa Rosa, the Lady Rattlers committed 15 unforced turnovers. Lease blamed the turnovers on the team’s fast break style that occasionally doesn’t let the play develop.
“We get so excited that we go to pass the ball and we’re not giving our outlets time to get into position,” Lease said.
Except for a nine-point run by the Lady Lions that tied the game early in the second period, the Lady Rattlers led the game throughout. The Lady Rattlers boxed out underneath the goal and were able to control the rebounds limiting the second- and third-chance shots by the Lady Lions.
“We have to continue to box out,” said Lady Rattler Kalani French. “It hurt us so much in previous games when we didn’t work to control the rebound.”
The Lady Rattlers’ offense was led by Lease with 17 points and Alyssa Martinez with 11 points. Lady Rattlers Maribel Lopez, Melissa Gardea, French and Ashley Shipley each scored five or more points.
“This is the type of scoring we have wanted to have,” said Lady Rattlers head coach Gary Hittson, who added that strong scoring y the entire team shows “you can’t just focus on one player, you have to account for everyone on the court.” He said against Clayton, the Lady Rattlers will work on boxing out to control the rebounds and continue to attack the baskets.
Game Time: 5:30 p.m., Thursday at the Snake Pit.
The Logan Longhorns, 10-11, 0-2 will have to get over a difficult 58-55 loss on Thursday to Fort Sumner as they move on in district play, said head coach Randy Robertson.
In their district opener Thursday night at Logan, the Longhorns lost the lead in the final minute of the game when Mike Estrada drew a technical foul by slapping the backboard following a layup by Fort Sumner’s Noah Maxwell.
“I didn’t even mean to slap the backboard,” Estrada said. “I just left my hand up there and it hit the glass. I can’t really do anything about it now. I just have to work hard to make it up to the team.”
The technical gave the Foxes two free throws, which they converted for the lead, as well as possession of the ball with slightly more than a minute remaining in the game.
The Longhorns were forced to foul to try and stop the clock but ultimately the Foxes held on for the win.
“We make mistakes, the team knows that, but more importantly they know that they have to pick themselves up and move on from those mistakes,” Robertson said.
Robertson said the Longhorns are not going to feel sorry for themselves, instead they are going to continue to work on improving and focusing on the next task at hand.
The Longhorns lost 47-44 Saturday at Dora.
Game Time: 7 p.m., Friday at Logan
The Lady Longhorns 15-7, 1-1, played a close game with the Vixens but made nine of 12 free throws in the final minute to seal the 49-33 win Thursday at Logan.
Lady Longhorn McKenna Stone was six for eight from the foul line in the final period. Stone led the Lady Longhorns offense with 16 points.
“We need to continue to play with intensity and leave it all out on the court,” Stone said.
Stone said if the team continues to play to its ability, the Lady Longhorns will be hard to beat at home or on the road.
The Lady Longhorns controlled the tempo of the game and built a lead but loose ball turnovers gave the Vixens scoring opportunities to keep them in the game.
“We have to do a better job at ball control,” said Lady Longhorn Kaylee Foote. “We have to make better passes when on offense and box out on defense.”
The Lady Longhorns lost 59-53 Saturday at Dora.
Game Time: 5:30 p.m., Thursday at Logan.
The San Jon Coyotes, 10-10, 4-1 and Lady Coyotes, 4-15, 2-4 swept Clovis Christian on Saturday for their Homecoming.
The Coyotes beat Clovis Christian 60-40 and the Lady Coyotes won 47-22.
The Lady Coyotes next game is at 6 p.m., Thursday at Grady.
The Coyotes next game is at 7 p.m., Thursday at Grady.