By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
TEXICO — The last time Jim Kneipp coached a Grady team in an EPAC tournament, the opponents had names such as Causey on the jersey and the games were played at Portales High School.
On Tuesday, Kneipp saw another raucous, old-fashioned see-saw game — played in the former main gymnasium at Texico — with his Bronchos finally able to scoot past Floyd 56-53.
In the first-round EPAC boys basketball contest, Grady (5-5) trailed 53-50 with just less than two minutes to play when Floyd’s Jerrod Long hit a basket for the final two of a 30-point night.
Floyd (6-5), however, was unable to hold on down the stretch. Grady’s Colt Grau scored with 1:15 left to cut the Broncos’ lead to one. Junior Robert Windham tied the game on a free throw with 46 seconds remaining.
Windham made the biggest play of the night following his free throw, stealing a Floyd pass and feeding Domingo Diaz for layup with 22 seconds left that put Grady up 55-53.
“They passed it to him (Long) every time during the game. I knew where it was going,” Windham said. “I was worried about my pass. I didn’t think he (Diaz) was going to catch it down there.”
“It was fun. They beat us by 40 last year — our kids are just trying to learn how to win a little bit,” said Kneipp, who coached at Grady in 1971 and 1972. “I thought we played extremely well down the stretch.”
Long, who drained three 3-pointers in the game, had a final chance to draw his team. Fouled on an attempted 3-pointer with 11 seconds left, Long missed the first two of his free throw attempts. After Long intentionally missed the third, Grau blocked out Floyd’s Eric Padilla and drew a foul. One more Floyd foul led to a free throw from Steven Carter with five seconds left for the final margin.
Grady was led by Jarrod Lindsey’s 22 points, while Grau (12 points) and Windham (11) also scored in double-figures for the Bronchos. Floyd, meanwhile, also got 10 points from Bryan Johnson to supplement Long’s output.