By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
TEXICO — Opponents tend to concentrate on Texico’s Braden Vaughan and Logan Brown, which is OK with Wolverines coach Rich Luscombe.
Clayton held Vaughan and Brown under 10 points each, but the senior tandem of Tony Clement and Josh Pena stepped in to guide the Wolverines to a 63-42 win in the championship game of the District 6-2A tournament at Texico.
Texico (25-1) will play three-time defending state champion Hope Christian in a regional semifinal next Friday in Albuquerque.
In the last meeting between Texico and Clayton, the Yellowjackets took the Wolverines into overtime on Texico’s home court.
“The last time, we had a real bad game and coach (Richard Luscombe) got on us a little bit,” said Clement, who scored a game-high 23 points. “The senior players on the team decided to step it up and come on strong.”
Clement’s pressure defensively helped the Wolverines hop out to an early advantage. When he swiped his fifth steal of the game and went in for a layup, he gave Texico a 25-13 lead with 4:12 left before halftime, Clayton (15-12) bounced right back, however, registering a 10-1 run before intermission — a streak that was capped by two Texico turnovers and baskets from Yellowjackets Angelo Montoya and Jonathan Fernandez.
Montoya led the ‘Jackets with 14 points.
Jeremy Cloud’s free throw to start the third quarter cut the Wolverines to 26-24 lead. But Texico answered with an 8-2 run, including a traditional three-point play by Brown to go up 34-26.
Pena, a senior guard, scored 14 points and slipped into the paint enough to lead all players with seven rebounds.
“It felt really good — I was ready to work my legs and get on the court,” said Pena of his team’s week-long wait between games.
“Braden had nine (points) and Logan had eight. But the fact that they concentrated so much on those two kids just really brought the other ones out,” Luscombe said.