Wolverines claim EPAC boys title

Texico’s Joe Zaikowski grabs a rebound over Floyd’s Eric Padilla. CNJ photo by Eric Kluth.

By Dave Wagner

PORTALES — Thirty-nine points won’t win many high school basketball games.

It was more than enough for Texico in Saturday’s EPAC boys championship game.

Playing suffocating defense throughout, the Wolverines eventually got a few of their own shots to drop and pulled away for a 39-21 victory over Floyd at Greyhound Arena.

Senior point guard Johnny Rivera scored 12 points and junior forward Braden Vaughan added 10 for Texico (10-2), which held the Broncos to six field goals and 14-percent shooting en route to its first EPAC title in three years.

Floyd and Dora have won EPAC championships since Texico’s last crown in 2001.

“Every year we’ve been in position to win this, but we couldn’t close it out,” Rivera said. “This year, I think we had the right mix (of players) to get it done.”

While Texico shot just 25 percent for the game, the Wolverines took command with an early 12-point run to erase Floyd’s only lead.

“I thought we got some good looks at the basket, but we had a hard time converting,” said Wolverines coach Richard Luscombe, who earned his 300th career win in 19 years as a head coach at Lazbuddie and Texico. “Floyd did a good job of doubling down on the post.

“But it goes back to when that part of your game’s not working, you’ve got to rely on the defense. I don’t think (Floyd) had many wide-open looks. When you hold a team to (six) field goals, you’ve done a good job. I think we really played hard defense.”

Jerrod Long’s free throw with 2:42 left in the first quarter gave the Broncos (7-5) their only lead. Texico then went on its run and led 14-3. Floyd senior Chance Chenault ended Texico’s run with a 3-pointer midway through the second quarter.

The Broncos got as close as four points in the third period, but Texico put together a 10-0 blitz that carried into the final period for a 32-17 lead.

“We just had to step up our defense,” Rivera said. “If we just do what we have to (on defense), the offense will take care of itself.

“It was probably our worst night (of the season) shooting, but probably our best night on defense.”

Floyd coach Jeff Gillespie said his relatively young squad was simply outmanned by the Wolverines.

“They’re so big, and they just outmuscled us inside,” he said. “They got the shots they wanted.

“In both games we played here, we didn’t shoot well. It’s just a different backdrop (than a normal high school gym).”

Chenault was the Broncos’ high scorer with nine points, and he also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.

Texico 39, Floyd 21
Texico (10-2) —
Braden Vaughan 4-11 2-3 10, Johnny Rivera 4-12 3-3 12, Garett Mayfield 2-9 2-2 6, Logan Brown 1-8 0-0 2, Bryce Bailey 3-15 0-1 6, Joe Zaikowski 0-2 1-2 1, Mark Peabody 1-1 0-0 2, Josh Pena 0-0 0-0 0, Aaron Vaughan 0-1 0-4 0, Ricky Burns 0-0 0-0 0, Chance Bradley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-59 8-15 39.
Floyd (7-5) — Kyle Kropf 1-4 0-0 2, Ryan Kropf 2-9 0-0 5, Jerrod Long 0-6 4-6 4, Manny Carrillo 0-6 0-0 0, Chance Chenault 3-15 1-2 9, Erickson Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Jonathon Mitchell 0-0 0-0 0, Jason Martinez 0-0 1-3 1, Bryan Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Eric Padilla 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 6-42 6-11 21.
Texico 9 9 11 10 — 39
Floyd 3 7 7 4 — 21
3-pointers — Texico 1-13 (Rivera 1-5, Mayfield 0-3, Brown 0-5), Floyd 3-25 (Chenault 2-10, R. Kropf 1-2, B. Johnson 0-1, E. Johnson 0-1, Carrillo 0-2, K. Kropf 0-3, Carrillo 0-6). Rebounds — Texico 45 (Bailey 9), Floyd 37 (Chenault 10). Assists — Texico 9 (four tied with 2), Floyd 6 (Carrillo, Long 2). Total fouls — Texico 10, Floyd 10. Fouled out — none.