By Dave Wagner
The St. Michael’s Horsemen may have been 2-8 before this week’s Milk Cow Classic at Rock Staubus Gym, but don’t count them out just yet in their bid for a third consecutive Class 3A state boys basketball title.
The Santa Fe-based school was busy earlier this month adding some football hardware to its trophy case.
The Horsemen defeated Lovington 41-26 on Dec. 6 to capture the school’s first football title in 31 years. But it’s contributed to a bit of a slow start in basketball, players said.
Still, after beating defending champion Abilene Cooper 72-66 in Thursday’s tournament quarterfinals, the Horsemen think they’re starting to hit their stride.
“It gave us some confidence,” said senior guard Thomas Romero, who scored 24 points against Cooper and was St. Mike’s quarterback this year. “It’s hard to pick up everything in basketball, especially with a new coach (Ron Mayberry) and just trying to get back into basketball.
“We haven’t come together yet. It’s taking us a while, with everyone getting used to each other.”
He hopes it doesn’t take too long.
“We have the opportunity,” said Romero, who had played just one basketball game before the tournament after breaking his wrist against Lovington. “Our district’s pretty tough, so we’ll just have to see how it comes out.
“If teams are going to overlook us (because of the early record), we’re going to take advantage of it.”
Romero threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for two scores in the win over Lovington. In addition, Romero noted that he actually has four championship rings — he was a shortstop for the St. Mike’s baseball team, which claimed the 3A title in May.
Ryan Patterson, a 6-foot-3 senior postand a flanker on the football team, said jumping right into basketball has been challenging.
“After the state championship game, we had a light (basketball) workout the next day,” said Patterson, who had 21 points against Cooper and also plays baseball. “It’s hard because you don’t get a week or two to adjust.”
Patterson said he got a lot of his points off the Horsemen’s defense.
“Our wing men had a lot of great steals, and they got it to me in the post,” he said. “And Thomas’ outside game was working real well.
“I definitely think we’re a lot better (than the record). We’ve got all our pistons firing now.”