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All-Santa Fe battle goes to the Demons

St. Michael’s denied repeat trip to Clovis championship game

 

It’s not like Santa Fe High can’t beat St. Michael’s. In fact, the Demons did it only last year.

But when it comes to the annual Clovis holiday boys basketball tournament, the two schools have had completely divergent courses over the last few years. While St. Michael’s has generally performed well against bigger schools in the draw, even making it to the title game last year, Santa Fe has foundered – with a first-round loss and an automatic entry into the consolation bracket.

That all changed on Tuesday as Santa Fe knocked off St. Mike’s 47-41 in overtime.

“It’s a big step. This is the first time we’ve come down here to Clovis and not had to play in the Sunshine League,” Demons coach Lenny Roybal said. “Now we’re in the finals.”

Santa Fe (7-4) advance despite suffering through horrendous slumps in the first and third quarters. The Demons scored only a single bucket in each of those periods and had to play from behind.

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Following a free throw by St. Michael’s junior Justin Smith to start the fourth, the Horsemen led 31-19. That’s when the Demons retaliated suddenly with a 13-0 run sparked by the play of  big man Kurtis Thomas, who at one point scored three out of his team’s four baskets from the floor.

“We were a little inconsistent and we’ve got to get better at that,” Thomas said. “We’re more like a second-half team really. We just got the tempo going in the second half.”

With less than a minute to play, after the momentum had swung 180 degrees, it was St. Michael’s (6-3) that had to play from behind. Led by 13 points from Antonio Garcia and 11 more from David Gonzalez, the Horsemen rallied from an 38-34 deficit in the last two minutes. 

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When Garcia made one of two free throws with 45 seconds remaining, he essentially forced overtime as Santa Fe’s Michael Dean missed a 3-pointer as regulation time ran out.

In OT, Santa Fe took control at the 1:15 mark on the clock when Josh Lucero scored a bucket to put his team up 42-41. Thirty seconds later, a St. Mike’s turnover led to a layup by Lucero for a three-point gap. In the last 25 seconds of ovetime, Nick Martinez scored a free throw and then a bucket from the floor for the final margin.

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 Thomas, who didn’t play basketball from his eighth- through tenth-grade years, led Santa Fe’s point production with 11 while Isaac Jeantete chipped in 10 points.

“We run that spread offense and St. Mike’s sunk (it’s defense) in on us. Our big man didn’t really get it going the first half at all,” Roybal said.

“We’re not a real summer league team and we’re not going to get better until later in the season,” the Santa Fe coach added. “While a lot of teams look like they’ve been practicing for eight months and we’re still learning stuff about each other.” 

Back to the Bracket!!! 

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Click here for the Clovis All-Tournament Team Selections!

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