Talon News - Good Local News



January 11, 2019



By David Edward Albright ,


January 3, 2019 was a single-digit tempurature, icey night for the first round match-up between Aztec and Crownpoint at Tigers Gym for the 'Rumble in the Jungle' holiday vacation tournament. The extreme cold apparently permeated the walls, possibly affecting the ball-handling and shooting of both teams from the outset. But the Tigers boys varsity team gradually heated up with intense defense and dominated the under-manned---only seven players suited-up in black with red trim---for the Crownpoint Eagles.

Aztec starters, Anthony Rios, Gabe Wood, Javier Valenzuela, Mikey Phillips and Austin Schaub struggled to find their rhythm and the net after gaining possession of the tip-off. The out-sized, but tenacious Eagles scored first on a three-pointer---after nearly two minutes into the contest, followed by a Tiger field goal. The Eagles scored again on a sweet jumper, taking a 5-2 lead. Their offense pushed hard with two quick baskets, a three and an easy drive to the hole, making it 10-2. Aztec took a timeout to stop the Eagles momentum.

The second half resumed with no lineup change for Aztec, who still looked tight---and cold. Schaub hit two at the line, 10-4 now---and Alex Parra replaced Phillips. Rios scored an easy basket after a steal and Schaub hit a three just before the first quarter buzzer---to make it a 12-9 deficit.

A lineup change for the second period was the right move for the Tigers. Issac Robeson, who dropped in 26 points against Navajo Prep, was off the mark on his first two attempts. Schaub, showing good rebounding skills, got a nice put-back after a miss by Wood. Rios scored quickly and Robeson found his pace by driving the baseline and scoring with skillful reverse layup, drawing the foul. He hit the freethrow, giving Aztec the lead, 14-12. They were rolling now! They soon led 18-12, after another Rios bucket, forcing an Eagles timeout. The Tigers full-court press, with greater height and long arms, began creating turnovers by the Eagles. Austin Jaime got a rebound and put-back basket, followed by a long three by the Eagles. A Robeson's three-pointer put Aztec ahead, 29-16. Good ball movement allowed an easy Jaime layup---making it 31-20 at the half.

Tigers began the second half with their starting lineup and continued the defensive pressure with a zone press. The Tiger lead expanded to 41-22 with only two minutes expired in the third period. Rebounds came easy for Aztec with their height advantage and crisp passes led to many easy lay-ins. With the score 49-27, Aztec's bench got more time on the court and the lead grew steadily. Wood's three-pointer from the baseline off a Robeson assist helped push the lead to, 65-33, at the end of the third.


More fastbreak scoring by the Tigers in the fourth quarter moved the lead to, 70-33. The Eagles never gave up; managed another three-point shot, a good drive inside, but were over-powered by the home team. The scoreboard read, Aztec 73, Visitors 38, at the final buzzer. Robeson again led the Tigers with 20, Jaime had 15, Schaub 12, Rios 9 and Wood 8, Brooks 2 and Parra 1---for balanced scoring by an improving, young team.

The Tigers fell to 4-7 overall and 0-0 in district, after tournament losses the next two days. On Friday, Fruita Monument handled them, 74-45, and Saturday they were subdued, 75-65, by Snowflake. Aztec travels South on Thursday, January 10 for the Portales Shoot Out to face the (7-5) Portales Rams.


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