(NMMI point guard Ricardo Mata tries to get a shot around the defense of Tularosa’s Cade Chistensen. Photo by Geoff Gunn)
Peter Dindinger – NMMI Sports Press
TULAROSA Entering a hostile environment in Tularosa, the New Mexico Military Institute Colt basketball team had a big task at hand to try and capture the District 4-3A tourney title.
This was the fourth meeting between both squads as the Colts led the series 2-1.
Unfortunately, it just wasn’t a good night for NMMI (14-8) as it committed 21 turnovers.
Tularosa drained seven 3-pointers to come away with a 54-45 victory on Saturday night at the Michael Dorame Gymnasium.
NMMI, a team that prides itself on ball movement, only had three assists.
“Twenty-one turnovers, three assists … I preach ball movement every single day and we have three assists,” said NMMI head Connor Williamson. “What are you gonna do?”
Tularosa (19-7) came out on fire on offense taking a 10-4 lead in the first quarter.
NMMI narrowly outscored the Wildcats, 10-8, in the second frame to trail by four points entering the locker room at the break.
Daniel Xibille led the Colts with eight points while Tularosa’s Gus Calderon had seven.
Josh Chavez knocked down a three-pointer for the Wildcats with 6:04 in the third quarter, he finished making six shots from beyond the arc.
NMMI’s Ricardo Mata answered with a three of his own with 42.7 seconds remaining on the clock to put the Colts behind, 30-29.
Tularosa’s offense took charge and controlled the pace of the game in the final quarter by outscoring NMMI, 21-16.
After Xibille fouled out of the contest with 11 points in the third quarter, NMMI got a majority of its scoring in the second half from Mata, who tallied 13 points in the final two frames.
Chavez led the Wildcats and all scorers with 18 points while Calderon added with 16. Tularosa outrebounded the Colts, 23-20. Cade Christensen grabbed seven boards.
Tularosa shot 7 for 9 from the charity stripe.
NMMI was paced by Mata with 17 points while Andres Bleizeffer added with six. Hector Soto tallied five points.
The Colts finished with four 3-pointers, all coming in the second half. Clay Stroh led in the rebounding department snagging seven boards.
From the free throw line, NMMI went 9 of 12.
NMMI was ranked No. 10 on MaxPreps in Class 3A. The Colts will discover their fate at 6 p.m. Sunday when the brackets are released by the New Mexico Activities Association. The selection show will be aired live online at nmact.org.