Longhorns take down rival Rattlers
January 5, 2022
LOGAN – The Longhorns repeatedly used its transition game to score against area rival Tucumcari during their annual clash Thursday. Just as importantly, the Longhorns also saw six 3-point shots and 30 points from sophomore guard Brock Burns.
The result was a 64-57 victory for Logan (3-7), despite the Rattlers' 28-6 advantage in free-throw attempts. Of course, attempts from the foul line don't mean much if a team doesn't convert them. Tucumcari (3-7) missed 13.
Rattlers coach John Span didn't like several things about his team's performance, and the failure to convert free throws was his biggest lament.
"I don't even know how many of those were the front ends of one-on-ones," he said. "And to lose by seven ... those have to be cashed in."
Logan was whistled for 21 fouls – including three technicals – versus Tucumcari's 10.
That included two Logan technical fouls as time expired in the first half. Diego Sanchez, a freshman, was whistled for a foul against Tucumcari's Nathan Griego at the buzzer, then was given two more technicals and ejected from the game when what appeared to be a scuffle broke out near halfcourt.
Given six foul shots on the play, Tucumcari converted four to shrink its deficit from 33-28 to 33-32.
Logan coach Kyle Griffiths said he had a talk later with his ejected player but didn't elaborate, saying only: "It was one of those life lessons."
Span said he didn't have a good look at what happened to spark the technical fouls and ejection but said, "You can't react like that."
Referees also ejected a spectator during the second half.
The Longhorns raced to double-digit leads three times in the second quarter, fueled by Burns' 3-pointers and his teammates' fastbreak baskets.
"We knew he could score, but I didn't think he'd light us up light that," Span said of Burns. "We didn't do a very good job (defensively) on him, and he was a focal point. We knew he could score; he has a beautiful shot. On some of them ... wow. We had pretty good defense at times, and they were still draining them.
"In transition, we gave up too many easy baskets, too many uncontested baskets, and we were still in the game."
Griffiths said his team's excellence in the transition game was no accident.
"That's something we work on every day in practice," he said. "Tonight, we made some good baskets and finished some good shots. You hope what you do in practice pays off, and it did."
Tucumcari again fell behind by as much as 11 in the third quarter. Span tried to get his Rattlers to refocus.
"I told the kids, 'Let's just take care what we can take care of. Get a good shot, make your free throws,'" he said. "We did at times, but not consistently enough."
Tucumcari's Andrew Henderson-Clark scored eight of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter to help close his squad's deficit to 57-53 with 2:47 left. Teammate Dominick Jasper added 18 points.
Rattlers guard Curtis Gonzales scored a traditional three-point play with 49.8 seconds left to narrow the gap to 60-57.
But Burns sank two free throws when Gonzales fouled out with 32.2 seconds left, then scored on steal 12 seconds later to ice the game.
Logan's victory wasn't always artful, but Griffiths said he'll take it.
"We needed a win in the worst way," he said. "We had a bunch of games, six or seven losses, where we had a lead at halftime. We needed a game where we closed it out. In the second half, we held our composure pretty well and made some plays down the stretch."