Dexter denies Texico in 2A title game

By Dave Wagner

CNJ SPORTS WRITER

dwagner@cnjonline.com

ALBUQUERQUE — You could almost say it was do-or-die for the Dexter Demons.

CNJ correspondent photo: Joshua Lucero Texico’s Kendall Naeceanceno speeds past the Dexter defense for a second-half layup.

CNJ correspondent photo: Joshua Lucero
Texico’s Kendall Naeceanceno speeds past the Dexter defense for a second-half layup.

With a 14-player roster that includes 12 seniors, if they were going to win a state championship, this was the year.

Meantime, the Texico Wolverines’ bid for third consecutive comeback win from double digits came up short.

Second-seeded Dexter, which rallied from a double-figure deficit of its own to beat Clayton in the semifinals, rode a fast start, survived a shaky fourth quarter and held on for a 61-51 victory over Texico on Saturday at The Pit to claim the Class 2A boys state championship.

Dexter (28-2), which lost in last year’s title game to Laguna Acoma, got five 3-pointers and 17 points from senior guard Kevin Bonner, 13 points and nine assists from senior guard Kevin Paez and 10 points and seven rebounds from senior forward Missael Barrientos.

“These kids were shooting for the blue (championship) trophy,” said coach James Voight, adding that Dexter’s starters have played together since seventh grade. “Our motto all year was ‘only blue will do.’”

Texico (27-5) struggled to make shots, but the fourth-seeded Wolverines stayed in the game with a 53-34 domination of the smaller Demons on the glass. Senior forward Miguel Reyna finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds while senior post Jonah Walls, who missed eight games with a late-season injury, added 15 points and 10 boards.

“I was finally able to get back to my game,” said Walls, who was held to two points and three rebounds in Texico’s 63-59 upset of top-seeded and previously unbeaten Laguna in the semis.

Meantime, Bonner hit three 3-pointers in the second stanza after missing his two attempts in the first period, helping the Demons build a 33-25 halftime lead.

“My teammates told me to keep shooting it, and I finally got one,” said Bonner, who finished 5-for-10 from long distance. “This (tournament) was a great experience. There are no words to describe it.”

A 3 by Baez erased Texico’s only lead (2-0) and the Demons appeared ready to cruise to victory, building a 15-point cushion through three quarters. Then, trying to draw Texico out of its zone, the Demons became tentative and the Wolverines went on an 11-0 run to start the final period and cut their deficit to 49-45 with 4 1/2 minutes left.

CNJ correspondent photo: Joshua Lucero From left, Wolverines Gentry Doolittle, Miguel Reyna, Mitchell Pinnell, Jonah Walls, and Kendal Naeceanceno walk off the court after accepting their Class 2A runnerup trophy Saturday morning at The Pit in Albuquerque. Texico fell to Dexter 61-51.

CNJ correspondent photo: Joshua Lucero
From left, Wolverines Gentry Doolittle, Miguel Reyna, Mitchell Pinnell, Jonah Walls, and Kendal Naeceanceno walk off the court after accepting their Class 2A runnerup trophy Saturday morning at The Pit in Albuquerque. Texico fell to Dexter 61-51.

“We just started running a little trap there,” first-year Wolverines coach Scott Karger said of his team’s comeback. “It was effective for a while, but we just couldn’t keep it going.”

Barrientos ended the drought for Dexter with a 3-point play at the 2:58 mark, making it 53-45, then scored ztwo more baskets in short order to restore a double-figure lead with 1 1/2 minutes to go.

“It was never our intent to just stall,” Voight said. “We were holding it out front too much and not attacking.”

Dexter went 10-for-27 from 3-point range — 8-of-22 in the first half — while the Wolverines missed all nine of their attempts.

“I felt like if we could get them to miss some shots, we’d be all right,” Karger said. “Then they got some rebounds on missed shots that hurt us.

“Those were backbreakers.”

Both of Texico’s teams lost in the 2A finals. Reyna’s sister, Brianna, a sophomore, leads the Lady Wolverines and had 25 points and 20 rebounds in Friday’s title game setback to Tularosa.

“I’ll remember just how much work we put in and how much our teammates meant to us,” Reyna said of the season. “The town of Texico has had a good impact on our lives.”
Saturday
Boys
Class 2A championship
Dexter 61, Texico 51
Texico (27-5) — Justin Rucker 2-4 1-5 5, Gentry Doolittle 2-10 0-0 4, Brannon Karger 1-7 0-0 2, Miles Grau 0-0 0-0 0, Kendall Naceanceno 2-7 1-2 5, Jonah Walls 2-7 8-15 12, Lance Myers 0-0 0-0 0, Jonah Tuls  1-1 0-0 2, Mason Golden 0-0 0-0 0, Miguel Reyna 7-14 7-8 21, Mitchell Pinnell 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-51 17-30 51.

CMI correspondent photo: Joshua Lucero Above: Texico guard Brannon Karger receives a pass and eyes up the shot in the first half of Saturday’s Class 2A state title game at The Pit in Albuquerque. Below: Gentry Doolittle puts up a two point shot over Dexter's Kevin Perez in the second half. The Demons defeated Texico 61-51.

CMI correspondent photo: Joshua Lucero
Above: Texico guard Brannon Karger receives a pass and eyes up the shot in the first half of Saturday’s Class 2A state title game at The Pit in Albuquerque. Below: Gentry Doolittle puts up a two point shot over Dexter’s Kevin Perez in the second half. The Demons defeated Texico 61-51.

Dexter (28-2) — Kevin Bonner 6-15 0-2 17, Kevin Paez 4-13 3-4 13, Kyle Bonner 1-1 0-0 3, Jacob Sanchez 0-1 1-2 1, Israel Gonzalez 0-0- 0-0 0, Luis Villa 0-0 0-0 0, Uriel Jimenez 0-0 0-0 0, Edgar Saenz 0-0 0-0 0, Missael Barrientos 4-8 2-4 10, David Lopez 3-10 1-2 9, Anthony Sandoval 0-0 0-0 0, Ross Sterrett 0-0 0-0 0, Jorge Nevarez 4-7 0-0 8. Totals 22-55 7-14 61.
Texico     10    15    9    17    — 51
Dexter    12    21    16    12    —   61
3-pointers — Texico 0-8 (Doolittle 0-1, Naceanceno 0-1, Rucker 0-1, Karger 0-2, Reyna 0-3), Dexter 10-27 (Ke. Bonner 5-10, Paez 2-7, Lopez 2-8, Ky. Bonner 1-1, Sanchez 0-1). Rebounds — Texico 53 (Reyna 16), Dexter 34 (Barrientos 7). Assists — Texico 3 (Doolittle, Karger, Reyna 1), Dexter 17 (Paez 9). Total fouls — Texico 16, Dexter 21. Fouled out — Doolittle, Ky. Bonner.