Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Rattlers edge top-ranked Santa Fe Prep in overtime

 

January 13, 2015

QCS Photo: Steve Hansen Tucumcari Rattlers point guard D’Ontee Sandoval goes airborne for two points during Saturday’s Rattler victory over Santa Fe Prep’s Blue Griffins, colliding with the Griffins’ center Ian Andersson (25). Griffins Keenan Amer (20) and Tenzin Dorjee (22) look on.

link QCS Photo: Steve Hansen

Tucumcari Rattlers point guard D’Ontee Sandoval goes airborne for two points

during Saturday’s Rattler victory over Santa Fe Prep’s Blue Griffins, colliding

with the Griffins’ center Ian Andersson (25). Griffins Keenan Amer (20) and Tenzin Dorjee (22) look on.

Sometimes when you never let up even though you’re being outscored, you settle for a loss no one would be ashamed of, but sometimes you win.

Victory is what happened with to the Tucumcari Rattlers, now 13-2 for the season, Saturday against the now 8-5 Santa Fe Prep Blue Griffins, a team that that was taller man-for-man than the Rattlers and that outscored and out-rebounded the Rattlers for most of the game. The final score was 62-60 Rattlers, but a win is a win.

The win also places Tucumcari among the top five among the state’s 3A teams.

“This was a big win for us against a team that will most likely win their district,” Rattler head coach John Span said.

Span said the game against the Blue Griffins gave the Rattlers a much needed test against a stout team that pushed them to play smart basketball. Many of his starters got into foul trouble early on and had to be pulled out so they could play later in the game.

The victory would not have been possible if younger Rattlers coming off the bench didn’t know what role to play in such a crucial game, Span said.

“These younger players really stepped up and did us proud on the court,” Span said. “They were able to take care of business, which is exactly what I have told them needs to be done.”

Something happened in the fourth quarter. After three quarters in which the Griffins outscored the Rattlers 14-11, 11-10, then 16-12, the Rattlers, who had never let up, started to narrow the lead, actually gaining a point on the Griffins, 49-48, with just two minutes to go in the game. They traded scores in the remaining minutes, the Rattlers maintaining a lead of up to four points.

With the score 51 to 53, however, the Griffins scored again to tie the game at the buzzer. In that quarter, however, the Rattlers had scored 20 points to the Griffins' 12.

The Rattlers carried the momentum into overtime, scoring nine points to the Griffins’ seven to win.

“The kids showed a lot of heart,” Span said. “They were outmatched, size for size, but they kept in position.”

By staying in position, he said, “when we had a chance to get going, we had an opportunity to pull it out. We were fortunate to come out on the other side.”

Span would not name standout players in the game.

“Everybody who got on the floor was important in this win,” he said.

Span said now the Rattlers will prepare for a stretch of road games starting Tuesday at Fort Sumner.

On Jan. 22 the Rattlers will play at Dexter and on Jan. 27 at Texico. They return home on Jan. 30 to host Clayton in their first district match up.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Span said. “It’s not going to be easy. That win against Santa Fe Prep will have teams looking at us in a whole new light.”

Lady Rattlers beat Santa Fe Prep

The Lady Rattlers (5-7) won a non-district game against the Santa Fe Prep Lady Blue Griffins Saturday at Santa Fe.

“We played an excellent game against Santa Fe Prep and I am proud of how the girls performed,” said Gary Hittson, Lady Rattlers head coach.

The Lady Rattlers had three players in double digits, Alyssa Martinez, 13 points; Kalani French 13 points; and Melissa Gardea, 15 points.

The win against the Lady Blue Griffins is the second victory in a row for the Lady Rattlers. They beat East Mountain 52-37 on Jan. 6 at Tucumcari.

Hittson said the two wins have been a great confidence booster and have shown him the Lady Rattlers can play tough together and force turnovers on defense.

Leading the Lady Rattlers against East Mountain were Gardea with 15 points, French with 13 points and Maribel Lopez with 11 points.

“This is a completely different team from last year’s Lady Rattlers,” Hittson said. “They show poise and when they work together can attack the ball and create scoring opportunities.”

Hittson said the Lady Rattlers are still working on keeping up their starting intensity through the entire game. In the past two games they have outscored their opponent by double digits, he said.

The Lady Rattlers also need to improve their free throw percentage. Against Santa Fe Prep they shot only 47 percent and against East Mountain, 57 percent.

Putting those points on the board, he said, could make a completely different game. Further down the road, he said, those points will make the difference in post-season play.

QCS Senior Writer Thomas Garcia and Managing Editor Steve Hansen compiled this report.

 

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