Sandia’s road win has it atop District 2-5A

West Mesa forward Elijah Brody shoots during Wednesday’s game as Sandias Mason Howell defends. Chancey Bush/Journal

Many boys’ basketball coaches would tell you how difficult it is to oversee the freelance Sandia Matadors.

But Sandia at No. 2 might not deserve nearly enough credit for his defensive prowess.

The Matadors hit the West Mesa gym Wednesday night and held the fourth-placed Mustangs well below their season average, earning some key 3 points from Dalen Moyer and Andrew Hill after halftime while earning an important 63-51 win in the District 2- 5A schedule reached its halfway point.

“It was a huge game,” said Sandia coach Danny Brown. “Now we have to focus on Farmington (Saturday). We’re going up there and it’s going to be tough. Every game (in this district) is a challenge.” The 2-5A standings had three teams – Sandia, West Mesa and Eldorado – taking first place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

By 9 p.m., only one team remained at the top, the Matadors (17-4, 4-1).

West Mesa (15-6, 3-2), La Cueva (13-8, 3-2) and Eldorado (13-8, 3-2) tied for second place after the Bears got in Eldorado and the Eagles 57 had surpassed -47 on Wednesday night. Josiah Guliford had 26 points for La Cueva and was a perfect 13-for-13 from the line, and Cam Dyer added 14 points for the Bears.

West Mesa averaged 65 points per game on Wednesday. But the Mustangs ran hot and cold off the ground, adding to the defensive issues caused by Sandia’s pressing style.

Still, the Mustangs were close to leading a comfortable halftime lead before Sandia heated up a bit defensively, turning a 9-point deficit into just a 4-point lead at halftime, 28-24.

“I honestly thought it started in the last 30 seconds, 40 seconds of the second quarter,” Brown said. “We made a little run and it carried over into the second half. The boys are through with it.”

In the middle of the third quarter the game was extremely close; Darian Lucero buried a 3 for the Mustangs for a 34-33 lead, but Moyer countered at the other end with a 3 of his own. Sandia led 36-34 and never fell back.

Moyer, finishing with 14 points, connected another 3 moments later to counter Brandon Lagunas’ 3 for West Mesa and prevented the momentum from switching to the Mustangs.

“I just caught it and I felt good,” said Moyer, who recently committed to Northern New Mexico College at Española. “I just catch and shoot, the coach always tells me that. Bring the energy.”

In the fourth quarter, it was Hill, who led the Matadors with 20 points, who provided the long-range hits.

The left-hander buried two 3s in the fourth quarter to keep the Mustangs at bay. West Mesa had gone up to a point at 45-44 on a Lagunas 3 earlier in the quarter. Sandia scored the next six.

Ely Lovato scored 11 of his 15 second-half points for Sandia.

“I also thought we tired them out a bit,” Brown said. “They’re difficult to guard, and we’ve tired them out a bit.”

Elijah Brody led the Mustangs by 15 points.
SANDIA 63, WEST MESA 51 SANDIA (17-4, 4-1 in 2-5A): Andrew Hill 20, Dalen Moyer 15, Thomas Adams 5, Lamarion Coleman 6, Ely Lovato 15, Mason Howell 3. Overall 22 11-14 63. WEST MESA (15-6, 3-2): Elijah Brody 15, Brandon Lagunas 9, Elijah Espinosa 2, Sonny Ortiz 7, Donovan Cruz 11, Darian Lucero 7. Overall 20 4-9 51. Sandia 9 15 21 18 — 63 West Mesa 14 14 13 10 — 51 3-point goals: S 8 (Hill 3, Moyer 3, Adams, Lovato); WM 7 (Lagunas 3, Cruz 2, Lucero, Ortiz). Total fouls: S 14; World Cup 13

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