By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
TUCUMCARI — The way Fort Sumner was drilling 3-pointers to start the game, the Foxes seemed poised to bomb Tucumcari into submission in Saturday’s boys finals of the Route 66 Holiday Tournament.
The Rattlers countered with a patient offensive attack and a bothersome halfcourt defensive scheme.
For the second year in a row, Tucumcari knocked off Fort Sumner in the finals of its tournament. This time, the Rattlers won by a 60-53 count after recovering from an early 17-8 deficit.
“Tucumcari started out in a 2-3 zone and I kind of expected that, so we were prepared to shoot from outside,” Fort Sumner coach Wes Weems said. “We talked about how they would eventually go into their 2-2-1 halfcourt trap.
“We just, for some reason, lost our composure there and never regained it.”
The Foxes (3-1) jumped out to a 7-0 lead to start the game as Jarrod Gauna hit a 3-pointer and Jeremy Gauna scored a field goal and a couple of free throws.
Tucumcari (5-3) responded with four points of its own, but Jarrod Gauna and Matt Sena answered for Fort Sumner with long-range 3s as the visitors built a nine-point advantage.
But the lead never got to double digits as Tucumcari, behind the guard play of Jeremy Lopez and Gabriel Anaya, hung around the rest of the first half.
Anaya tied the scored at 25 with two seconds left in the half when 3-point shot clanged high off the back rim but fell clean through.
Anaya, who scored 17 points, knocked home two more 3s in the third quarter as Tucumcari gradually gained control. Josh Villegas, stymied early inside by the likes of 6-foot-6 Fort Sumner center Matthew West, began to score more regularly in the second half to tally a total of 15 points.
Fort Sumner was led by Jeremy Gauna’s 19 points while Sena added 11 for the Foxes.
“I knew they shoot the ball well,” Tucumcari coach John Span said. “That’s what they do and they do a good job of it. Anytime we play them, he (Weems) know what I’m going to do and I know what he’s going to do.
“It’s just a matter of our kids making adjustments and making plays,” Span added. “Tonight, I guess we did a little better job than they did.”