Tigers get big victory over Española Valley in district rivalry match

With the win, Taos is the only remaining undefeated team in District 2-4A action

Matthew Narvaiz
sports@taosnews.com
Posted 2/7/20

Truly, the match between the Taos Tigers and the Española Valley Sundevils at Otero Gymnasium on Thursday night (Feb. 6) was a Northern New Mexico clash.

The stands were packed with both Tigers and Sundevils fans, and it made for a competitive game of basketball. But by the time the whistle had blown, Taos managed to pick up an important 58-51 victory in District 2-4A play.

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Tigers get big victory over Española Valley in district rivalry match

With the win, Taos is the only remaining undefeated team in District 2-4A action

Posted

Truly, the match between the Taos Tigers and the Española Valley Sundevils at Otero Gymnasium on Thursday night (Feb. 6) was a Northern New Mexico clash. 

The stands were packed with both Tigers and Sundevils fans, and it made for a competitive game of basketball. But by the time the whistle had blown, Taos managed to pick up an important 58-51 victory in District 2-4A play.

The win keeps the Tigers perfect in district action with just four games to go, and it’s setting them up for the upcoming state tournament in March. 

“It’s a blessing, man,” Abdul Khweis said when asked how big the fans were on Thursday. “We love the support. Let’s keep it coming.”

Most impressive, the Tigers were able to keep their composure throughout the game – with the loud crowd in the background – and play stellar defense. Taos used a plethora of full-court pressure and on-ball traps that, for the most part, kept them in the lead in the most critical moments. 

Taos (17-5, 4-0), who is without Noah Armijo for the rest of the season, played well with a smaller starting lineup that consisted of Khweis, Angel Limas, Isiah Jeantete, Anthony Padilla and Edgar Valera. 

Head coach Hernando Chavez said that his team had solid practices all throughout the week leading up to their game with Española Valley, and that was a big reason why they came away with an important victory.

“I thought we played very balanced tonight,” Chavez said. 

Limas was able to get the Tigers on the scoreboard first after grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring on a layup in the opening moments of the game.

But Española Valley stuck around and, at least in the first half, had Taos’ trap somewhat figured out. Meanwhile, the Sundevils were alrrady comftorable shooting from deep – and for good reason. They had three 3-pointers fall in the first quarter, and one of those shots from beyond the arc came from Garrett May, who had hit the shot with a defender in his face. 

Padilla, though, didn’t slow down at all for the Tigers when it came to shooting 3-pointers of his own. After hitting a bunch of big shots at Los Alamos, Padilla hit three shots from beyond the arc in Taos’ game against Española Valley and one of those came in the first quarter. 

The other two 3-pointers from Padilla came in the third quarter, when Taos started to pull away for good. 

“We know Anthony [Padilla] is a good shooter,” Chavez said. “We’ve known since the beginning of the year that if he gets going, he’s going to be dangerous.”

The Sundevils (13-8, 3-1) kept shooting 3-pointers throughout much of the second quarter, though only one landed. Both teams didn’t score much throughout the frame, with Taos adding 12 points and the Sundevils adding 11 points, respectively.

Up 30-29 coming out of the half, the Tigers came out firing and got a big 3-pointer from Padilla, who was beautifully assisted by Varela just seconds into the frame. 

Then, about three minutes into the quarter, Padilla hit his third 3-pointer and it put Taos up 36-30 and to which the crowd loudly erupted with cheers. 

The Tigers continued their dominance into the fourth quarter, and in the first 15 seconds had recorded two steals and got five points – all from Khweis – to extend their lead to 47-35. 

“We weren’t causing lots of turnovers off of our press,” Chavez said. “But we felt like it was wearing them down. It’s a cumulative effect. It’s going to take its toll. You might not see it in the first or second quarter, but you'll see it in the third or fourth.”

Later in the quarter, the Sundevils tried to make a comeback of their own and went on a 7-0 run to bring the game within single digits. However, Juan Branch of Española Valley fouled out with about two and a half minutes to go and it boded well for the Tigers. 

The Tigers, who were already getting ready for victory formation with the clock running down, had the support of the fans in the final moments. As the Sundevils had the ball on an offensive possession, and right before a timeout was called, the fans in the student section chanted “Start the buses.” 

Khweis led all scorers with 18 points. Padilla added 11 points and Limas had 10 points for the Tigers. 

With just four games left in district action, Chavez knows the importance of maintaining focus. 

“I think today we took a big step forward,” Chavez said. “But all the teams in the district are playing at a really high level, so you can’t sleep.”

The Tigers will next face Pojoaque Valley at home on Tuesday (Feb. 11).



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