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Wolverines pull away from Melrose for win

Texico finds enough rhythm at end to prevail

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By Karl Terry
USATourneyTime

The Texico Wolverines lived up to their top-seed position in the EPAC Tournament Wednesday at Melrose as they put together two solid quarters to outlast the host Buffaloes 66-49.

For Texico head coach Richard Luscombe and his squad the Wolverines play wasn’t up to the standard they were looking for at EPAC. The win, however, advances them to the semifinal round Friday at 5:30 p.m. in Eastern New Mexico University’s Greyhound Arena against No. 5 seed Fort Sumner.

“We were pretty sloppy,” said Luscombe of his team’s performance. “It seemed like we struggled to ever get in a rhythm.”

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After building a 10-point, 20-10 lead, after one quarter, Texico let Melrose slowly slip back into the game in the second quarter. With the Wolverines leading 28-24, Melrose senior Kole Tatum nailed a 2-pointer to bring the Buffs within a bucket at 28-26 with 1:40 left in the half. Texico closed the door quickly and took a 33-27 lead into the locker room.

Texico senior Seth Bailey’s 3-pointer just ahead of the third period buzzer made it 48-33. Bailey sank a pair of free throws down the stretch and a layup by junior Tyler Strickland midway through the fourth nailed the door shut on Melrose for good.

“Offensive execution was not very good and we didn’t have much patience tonight,” said Luscombe. “We didn’t make that extra pass when we should have and consequently we turned the ball over and made some mistakes.” 

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Wolverine senior post Kyle Boatman made it clear, as did junior Mitchell Harrison, that the team’s members weren’t happy with their effort.

“We didn’t play anywhere near where we need to be,” Boatman said. “We took a big step back today. We never really ran our offense the way coach wanted us to, we never really set up right.”

Melrose coach Dickie Roybal, on the other hand, said he was not completely displeased with his team’s performance, against the 2A powerhouse Texico.

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“I thought our kids’ effort was there,” Roybal said. “We didn’t hit our free throws like we should have, though. You’ll never win games where you don’t make free throws.”

The Buffs shot a dismal 9-for-25 from the line.

“Texico is big and strong and I don’t see anyone beating them in this tournament,” Roybal said matter of factly.

Texico senior post Lucas Walthers led all scorers with 18 points on the night. Bailey had 15 and Connor Doolittle notched 10.

For Melrose, senior Clint Barnard unleashed a 15-point effort while Hayden Huber had 9 and Kole Tatum scored 8.
  

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