After a plodding semifinal between Elida and Floyd in which only 39 points scored, it didn’t just look like Texico was scoring at a rapid pace in the beginning of the nightcap.
The Wolverines were.
Texico (10-1) moved into the championship of the annual EPAC boys tournament by beating Fort Sumner 75-54 on Friday night at ENMU’s Greyhound Arena.
The Wolverines raced to an 11-0 start only two minutes into the contest en route to a 29-point first quarter. Texico faces Elida, a 20-19 winner over Floyd, in today’s 8 p.m. championship.
By intermission, Texico had roared to a 53-20 advantage as its harassing full-court defense forced Fort Sumner (7-3) into 19 first half turnovers.
“I didn’t feel like we played all that well on Wednesday and part of that was how Dora played us,” Texico coach Richard Luscombe said of his team’s 56-52 quarterfinal win over the Coyotes. “Our kids just didn’t play as hard and with as much intensity as we needed to.
“They knew it and they made the adjustment. They decided that they were ready to play. When we get ready to play, we’re pretty decent.”
Seth Bailey led the Wolverines with 22 points and seven assists. Lucas Walthers and Levi Richards also got into double figures by scoring 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Bailey and Rhett Martin, who finished with eight, alternated hitting shots as Texico sprinted to its early lead. Still, only two minutes had elapsed when a 3-pointer by Christian Pettigrew got the Foxes on the board. When Fort Sumner’s Laremy Simmons tallied an old-fashioned three-point play, following a score by Texico, the score was 13-6.
That’s when Texico went on a quick seven point spurt to regain momentum. In the second quarter, the Wolverines registered 21 out of 25 points to start the period and take command for good. After intermission, Texico used its regulars for the opening minutes of the second half and then went almost exclusively with its reserves.
“Coach was pushing us to play well early on and we did,” Bailey said. “It always does (help) to take the wind out of their sails and we got one of their good players (Berry Stinnett) into foul trouble.”
Stinnett had 10 points for the Foxes, and Simmons added nine. Fort Sumner was missing one of its starters because junior Rawley Stallard was hospitalized after a car accident earlier in the day on his way to school.
“I know those kids are a real tight-knit group and I’m sure it was on their minds,” Luscombe said. “It had to be. It made a big difference for them and kind of got them out of their rhythm.”
Elida 20, Floyd 19 — The Tigers (12-2) failed to score in the final quarter and went 0-for-4 from the free throw line, including the front end of two 1-and-1s. Leon Mendoza pulled Floyd (10-4) to within a point with a six-foot jumper with four seconds left, but after a missed Elida free throw Chet Chenault’s lone 3-pointer for the Bronchos was off the front of the rim.
Junior forward Kody Paiz scored 13 points for the Tigers, including all six of Elida’s points in the third quarter. Chenault’s eight points was the top outing for Floyd.
Dora 65, Melrose 52 (fifth place) — The Coyotes built a 20-point lead in the first half and kept Melrose at bay the rest of the way.
Sophomore Lathan Leib scored 22 points for Dora (8-4), while Kyler Smith added 18 and Jeremy Butler 10. Junior Clint Barnard put in 18 points for the Buffaloes (4-7), and senior Ramon Arenivar added 10.