Goodbye is never easy. Sometimes it’s “heartbreaking,” as Taos senior Quinn Moon said of the Taos Tiger 66-46 loss to the Los Lunas Tigers in the quarter-final round of the 4A state championship.
To get to the quarter finals, “We went through pain together as brothers,” said Taos’ Husam Khweis. The other Tigers in the Tiger versus Tiger game reported the same.
Los Lunas has been fueled all year by their 50-41 loss to Belen in the 5A semifinals of the state championship in 2018. “We’re hungry,” said Los Lunas head coach Travis Jullian.
“We knew [Taos was] a good offensive team,” said coach Jullian. “We had our work cut out for us.”
Taos was able to get more shots off, 52 to Los Lunas’ 50, but the Los Lunas defense forced them to shoot over hands, triple-team Tiger Abdul Khweis and contain Taos to 15 field goals. In spite of the tight coverage, Khweis led the Tigers in scoring with 18 points. Justin Madrid and Derreck Chacon each had 9.
In the second half, the Taos Tiger defense held Los Lunas to 42 percent of their field goal attempts (down from 58 percent in the first half) and allowed only one of five 3-pointers. Still, Los Lunas was able to extend their lead each quarter.
Zanen Zeller “drew the assignment” of containing Noah Armijo of Taos, which was “definitely a challenge,” Zeller said. “He got in my head a little bit.”
Armijo got into “a little bit of foul trouble,” said Taos head coach Nando Chavez. Of his “about 16 minutes” on the court, Armijo still managed 10 of Taos’s 34 rebounds. “He was a force for us, a presence,” said Chavez.
This is the second visit to the quarter finals of the state tournament in as many years for the Taos Tigers. Losing seven seniors “we’ll definitely be going through a transition next year,” said coach Chavez. “I can’t say enough about the group of seniors that we have” and “their fine example over the past couple of years will trickle down to those younger guys,” said coach Chavez. The seniors “really put this program on solid ground, on solid footing. What they did to grow the program over the past couple of years, I can’t thank them enough.”
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