PORTALES — It didn’t take very long, evidently, for the Texico Wolverines to transition from a state championship winning football campaign to the basketball season. After a single loss to open the hoops schedule, Texico won its 11th straight game on Saturday night.
Even within the confines of the EPAC tournament, the Wolverines showed improvement.
With a 60-25 victory over Elida, Texico (11-1) took the boys championship of the annual event for small schools in eastern New Mexico.
The contest was well in hand for the Wolverines, led by Brett Anderson’s 13 points and eight rebounds, by the end of the first quarter. A five-point lead midway through the opening stanza bulged to a 23-6 score after a 14-2 run by Texico to finish the period.
It was the second straight blowout victory in the tournament for Texico, which handily defeated Fort Sumner in the semifinals. The Wolverines started the EPAC festivities on Wednesday by beating Dora by five points.
“The first game, we didn’t really get into our pressure defense much,” Anderson said. “The last two games, I think that worked really well for us. It kind of gets us into a rhythm and gets us going.”
By suddenly switching to full-court pressure or traps against Elida’s half-court offense, Texico often surprised the Tigers — who turned the ball over 15 times in the first half.
Elida (11-3) came into the EPAC championship off a stagnant offensive effort in the semifinals. The Tigers, led by Cade Cathey’s seven points, had beaten Floyd 20-19 on Friday to get into the finale at ENMU’s Greyhound Arena.
“Last night, we couldn’t make a basket,” Elida coach Darrell Chenault said. “Tonight, we couldn’t even get it down the floor. We got our tails kicked and we've got to learn from it.
"(Texico coach Richard Luscombe) does a great job. They change defenses nearly every time down the floor and we struggled recognizing that.”
Down 32-12 at half, Elida’s chances for any kind of comeback went awry as the Tigers failed to score in the third period.
Texico got 11 points from Seth Bailey, who hit three 3-pointer in the first half, and eight more from Lucas Walthers. By the end of the game, the Wolverines — sitting all of their starters for the fourth quarter — saw all but one of their players get into the scoring column.
Midway through the opening period, Texico had scored only seven points. But a deliberate offensive attack at that point was planned, according to Luscombe.
“We wanted to try to attack the basket first,” Luscombe said. “I knew the three-point shot was going to be there and that he (Chenault) wanted to take away the boxes from us. If we could establish that, we could get into a rhythm and then get our three-point shots to go in.”
It was Texico’s first EPAC championship since 2006. Last year, Elida won its second consecutive title as the Tigers beat Dora in the finals.
"We try not to compare really — try to keep last year out of our minds, because we’re really two different teams,” Chenault said. “At times, we play really well. At times, like tonight, we play really bad. We know we’ve got to get more consistent, get better every day and try to make a run at the end.”
Fort Sumner 40, Floyd 33 (third place)
Christian Pettigrew scored 12 points and Berry Stinnett 10 as the Foxes (8-3) outscored Floyd 15-8 in the second quarter to take control.
Chet Chenault scored 13 points and Chay Chenault added 11 for the Bronchos (10-5).
Logan 69, San Jon 48 (seventh place) — The Longhorns (5-6) rode a 28-point outing from Taylor Smith to victory. Chase Thompson and Kheldon Sherwood scored nine points apiece for the Coyotes (6-9).
Grady 46, House 33 (ninth place)
Tanner Allen had 13 points and Alex Sotelo 11 for the Bronchos (6-7), who pulled away by outscoring House 21-10 in the final quarter.
Jeremy Foust led the Cowboys (6-9) with 10 points.