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Melrose sprints away from San Jon in 3rd

Lawrence’s 22 points lead Buffales to opening round win

 

For just a little bit there, San Jon seemed to have taken control against host Melrose in the opening round of the EPAC Tournament on Tuesday.

Over the last two minutes of the first half, the Coyotes had scored six straight points and had gone up 22-19.

But things can change quickly, especially when Melrose shifts into a higher gear. The Buffaloes scored a 3-pointer from Gus Payne two seconds before intermission to tie. 

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 After the halftime break, thoughts of San Jon (4-7) getting a victory disappeared almost as quickly as the Melrose (3-3) players could get up and down the court. Sammy Lawrence, who finished with 22 points to lead all players, swished a trey to start the third period and Mitchum Rush picked off a Coyotes’ pass and raced in for a layup.

Up 35-30, Melrose went on a 17-0 tear that lasted well into the fourth quarter.

“We had a bad half. The shots weren’t falling and the defense wasn’t that good,” said Lawrence, obviously referring to the first half. “We knew we were better than that, so we just went out and played.”

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“They started playing with a little heart and trapping a little better,” Melrose coach Dickie Roybal said. “Made them turn the ball over and that was the difference.”

Clint Barnard added 12 points to the Melrose output while San Jon had three players in double figures: Colton Strand (11), Chase Thompson (11) and Bobby Benally (10).

“I just don’t think we have our legs under us, being off for Christmas break,” Coyotes coach Tommy Thompson said. “And they (the Buffaloes) just have more warriors than we have. They just wore us down. I have a six-man rotation basically – eight players, but two of those are freshmen.”

Roybal has been the longtime football coach for Melrose, where his teams have gone undefeated in each of the last two state championship seasons. Also the school’s athletic director, Roybal took over the boys basketball duties when former coach Casey Pack left the school in the summer.

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It’s the second time that Roybal has been summoned to be a head man on the hardwood. He also once coached the girls basketball team at Melrose for a short stint.

“It’s not like football, but it’ll work,” Roybal said.

Back to the Bracket!!!

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