basketball

Tigers pounce on St. Mike's in Horsemen Shootout finale

By James Barron
jbarron@sfnewmexican.com
Posted 1/16/20

When the Taos head boys basketball coach walked into the locker room to prepare for the Tigers' showdown with St. Michael's High of Santa Fe in the finale of the Horsemen Shootout round-robin tournament in Santa Fe, he saw a team that was ready and prepared for the moment. It was everything Taos wasn't before playing Laguna Acoma on Friday (Jan. 10).

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basketball

Tigers pounce on St. Mike's in Horsemen Shootout finale

Posted

Hernando Chavez knew what to expect Saturday night (Jan. 11) an hour before the Taos Tigers delivered it.

When the Taos head boys basketball coach walked into the locker room to prepare for the Tigers' showdown with St. Michael's High of Santa Fe in the finale of the Horsemen Shootout round-robin tournament in Santa Fe, he saw a team that was ready and prepared for the moment. It was everything Taos wasn't before playing Laguna Acoma on Friday (Jan. 10).

"That was a different team preparing [Saturday] than the team we had [Friday]," Chavez said. "As a coach, you can chuckle and tell them, 'See guys? This works!' Take some time to get mentally prepared. It works."

It sure did. Taos outmuscled, outhustled and outworked the host Horsemen. The Tigers didn't even need a 3-pointer, as every shot came inside the arc and led to a methodical 64-47 win to go a perfect 3-0 in the tournament.

And who needs the trey when you have a slasher in Abdul Khweis, who scored 21 points and went 9-for-11 from the free-throw line. Then, there was 6-foot-6 post Noah Armijio, who planted himself into the low post and grew roots as he scored 19 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to overwhelm the Horsemen inside.

Taos also held a 32-23 rebounding edge on the Horsemen, but 20 of them came in the second half as a 16-4 scoring run to open the third quarter proved to be the difference.

Armijo was front and center for that action, as he had 12 rebounds in the second half. He was most effective on the defensive glass, as he went five straight possessions with a board that kept the Horsemen to a one-and-out situation.

"Coach 'Nando has a saying that rebounding is a hustler type of trait," Armijo said. "Every time I see a ball go up, even if it's my last bit of energy, I know I have to go up because my team relies on me to get that board."

Against the Horsemen, the Tigers also relied plenty on Armijo to set the tone in the low post in the opening half and start a conga line of Horsemen defenders to the bench with foul trouble.

By the time the first half was over, Horsemen starting bigs Lucas Coriz and Rico Gurule were on the bench in foul trouble and Armijo had 14 points that helped the Tigers to a 33-26 lead at the break.

While the collection of fouls was a problem to the St. Michael's game plan, head coach David Rodriguez said the bigger problem was similar to Taos' in Friday's 61-49 win over Laguna Acoma -- not everyone showed up ready to play.

"That was our problem against Roswell, Capital, Santa Fe," Rodriguez said. "Against the tough teams, you gotta show up. It's game time. It's prime time. If you're a stud, be a stud all the time."

The Tigers won first two games of tournament, too

The Horsemen Shootout was a round-robin tournament, meaning each team got the same amount of games (3) regardless of wins or losses. Technically, there is no winner. But the Tigers might as well have been.

Taos won its first two games over Silver and Laguna Acoma.

The Tigers first faced Silver on Thursday (Jan. 9) and came away with a big 71-34 win.

Against Laguna Acoma, though, the Tigers had a tougher time. Going into the half, Taos held just a five point lead but was able to have a big third quarter in which they scored 20 points -- and broke away.

Khweis scored just four points in the first half, but added eight of his 20 total points in the third quarter. Edgar Valera, meanwhile, hit the most 3-pointers in the game (3).

What's next?

Taos had a short break this week, but will quickly get back to action as the team will participate in the Hope Christian Invitational which spans Thursday (Jan. 16) through Saturday (Jan. 18).

The Tigers' first game of the tournament will come against St. Pius X on Thursday at 10 a.m. Taos has already beaten the Sartans once this season, winning 57-38 at the Stu Clark Tournament in late December.

Additional reporting contributed by Taos News sports editor Matthew Narvaiz.

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