For NMMI Sports Press
For all but a few minutes of Thursday’s season finale vs. Frank Phillips College, the Bronco basketball team had to play catch up. But playing in Cahoon Armory in front of a small but very vocal crowd, the Institute led when in counted: at the very end.
NMMI topped the Plainsmen 76-72 after a very exciting final 38 seconds, putting them somewhere they hadn’t been in a decade: at .500 (14-14, 4-12) for the season.
“It was amazing,” said sophomore Marcus Roper, who led the scoring with 29 points. “I’m glad we could get the win. We hadn’t been .500 in 10 years, and I’m glad to bring it back to NMMI.”
“We all knew that it was our last game as sophomores, and we didn’t want to go out with a loss,” agreed sophomore Anthony Mann, who tallied 22. “We wanted to give it our all and end the season with a .500 record, which hasn’t been done in 10 years.”
The Broncos put the first points on the board, but two points was the biggest lead they had in the first half, which FPC led 32-31 after NMMI trailed by as much as nine. The Plainsmen opened the second half with a 3-pointer by Quame Edwards and led by as much as six until 12:26 when Roper got a putback to put the Broncos up 50-49.
But Franks Phillips came right back, using some big treys to again stretch the lead to as much as six. The Institute still wouldn’t quit, closing the gap to one on a field goal by Dane Williams, then, after a missed one-and-one opportunity by the Plainsmen, Ronell Abaekobe got the rebound and the assist as Williams put the Broncos up 73-72 with :38 showing on the clock.
With only four fouls on the board, Frank Phillips was forced to foul; and foul again; and foul again — with time outs between each foul — before Roper finally went to the line with seven seconds remaining and hit the first of two shots. The second shot missed, but Manns got the rebound and by the time FPC could foul again, only two seconds remained in the game.
Rhodes hit both his chances, sealing the victory — and the .500 season — for NMMI.
“We did the same thing against Clarendon up there (Monday),” said NMMI coach Sean Schooley. “We just kind of find some silly ways to get it done. This is the toughest conference in the nation, so any win, wherever you get it, you take it and run with it.”
And while that tough conference meant the Broncos finished out of the playoff picture, they still finished seventh in the WJCAC — ahead of Clarendon and Midland — and Schooley took none of the credit.
“I think that the job my guys did and coach (Ralph) Davis did, as many losses as we had to personnel, I think it’s remarkable about their character. I can’t say enough about coach Davis. He really kept us together and he deserves a ton of credit and my guys do, too. Because what we started with is not what we finished with.”
Over the season, the Institute lost players to both grades and injury, making things tougher as they headed into the brutal conference. But they never quit.
“The key players that we lost, it hurt us, but we knew we were still a family and we knew we had a job to get done and we knew we still had a goal, and that was to get .500 this season,” Mann said.
Asked if he was happy, Schooley admitted to slightly mixed feelings about the season.
“Yes and no,” he said. “Because of all the woulda, coulda, shoulda stuff. I really think we had a chance to rumble around in the playoff picture, but these kids fought hard. And they never quit. They never gave up, even when they knew they were out of the playoff picture. And them and coach Davis. Those guys deserve it all.”
Roper hopes to find a place at a D-I college in the Big 12, near his home in San Antonio, Texas, while Mann is still looking, but is thinking he’ll end up at Longwood University, a D-I institution in Virginia. Abaekobe and Mario Karailiev also graduate, but that leaves a solid core of freshman to return as sophomores.
“We’ve got some good ones coming back,” Schooley said, naming Dane Williams, Shaquan Rhoades and injured Will Joyce as keys to a possibly even better season in 2015. “There’s a lot of good chances.”
Lake Arthur came into the Godfrey Athletic Center with just six players on its girls basketball team, two seniors and four eighth graders. But for a full half, the Panthers kept pace with the Lady Colts, leading after the first quarter and trailing only by one at the half before finally falling 55-34.
NMMI coach Marisha Olesinski was not happy with how her team played in the first half.
“I have no answer why we play sometimes like we play,” she said. “We came out, like, I don’t know if they wanted to play. There was no effort, there was nothing, really. You always have to respect every opponent. You can’t just come and say it’s going to be easy because it’s not going to be easy. It might be their best game and our worst, and we can lose.”
And for the first half, a loss was definitely possible.
LA senior Myra Davila put the first points on the board just 23 seconds into the game, then the lead went back and forth, with the Panthers getting a pair of 3s from Jaque Velo to help their cause, and Chandler Hawkins getting a pair of layups for NMMI. But two missed free throws by Hawkins gave Lake Arthur a slim 10-8 lead after one.
Although the Colts came out fast in the second quarter, getting quick points from Celina Molina and Victoria Odell, the lead again went back and forth, with Davila scoring eight of the Panther’s 11 points, but missing two from the charity stripe on a foul at the buzzer to put NMMI up 22-21 at the half.
Olesinski gave her squad a talking to during the break, and it seemed to make a difference.
“I told them, ‘If you’re going to play like that, you’re going to lose this game,’” she said. “Because there is no way, playing like we were playing, to beat them. We had to make an adjustment at half time and I think we came out a little bit better.”
They did, coming out with a quick six points — a layup by Molina and trey and free throw by Odell — while holding LA to just four in the quarter — a 3-pointer and free throws. And the Colts stretched their 39-25 lead in the final stanza, with a pair of 3s by Odell leading the way.
Lake Arthur coach Charles Donohoe said his team’s problem is on the boards.
“We just don’t rebound,” he said. “That’s our problem. When you give up 2-to-1 shots, it doesn’t matter how many players you’ve got. You’ve got to have more rebounds.”
Odell led the way for NMMI, picking up 21 points on the night. Hawkins tallied 11 and Sierra Walker 10. Davila led LA with 18 points, while eighth grader Velo picked up 10.
Although the loss was the 11th of the season for the Panthers, they put more points on the boards Monday than they had in recent games.
“We’re getting better offensively, but our defense is still lacking a lot,” Donohoe said. “And it all goes back to rebounding, whether it’s offense or defense. We’ve got to get more ball possessions.”
“I’m glad we got the win, but I wasn’t happy with the way we played, especially the first quarter,” Olesinski said, noting that her team is going to have to play tougher to end the season on the plus side of the ledger. The 8-8 Colts host Eunice Tuesday, then travel to Dexter and Eunice.
“I told them, tomorrow, if they come, it’s not enough to show up. We have to play. And it’s going to be a little bit harder, and they have to, from the start, from the beginning to the end, really, if we want to win we have to play harder.”
That game is set for 5 p.m. in the GAC.
The NMMI women’s track and field team joined international teams from Canada and Mexico, and USA teams from Washington, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, California, Nevada and New Mexico to compete in the UNM Collegiate Classic in Albuquerque. Twenty-five teams in all, mostly NCAA Division I and II, were there to run, jump, and throw with many of the finest University track teams in the United States. NMMI Women competed with these track and field giants, and because of the level of the competition did not do well in individual places, but ran some outstanding times.
Ana Baleveicau, a sophomore from Fiji, had an outstanding 2 day meet. She had never run more than 400 meters before this season. She competed in the 600 and 800 meter runs and ran an NJCAA national qualifying time in both races. She is now eligible to participate in the NJCAA National Track and Field Meet, which will be held in New York City. She placed 8th overall in the 600m run and 22nd in the 800m run. Her 600m time of 1:39.20 ranks her in 13th place overall this season in the NJCAA and her 800m time of 2:24.91 (altitude adjusted to 2:24.10) ranks her in 20th place in the NJCAA.
Coach Batson was very pleased with the team’s effort. Everyone who had previously run in a meet had a faster time in this meet. Monica Izaguirre ran 5 seconds faster than her previous 800m run. NMMI will travel to Lubbock, TX next Friday, February 14, for the Texas Tech Masked Rider Indoor Meet.
60 meter dash – Tichina Carmon – 8.68 – 19th place
60m hurdles – Alisha Dickinson – 9.82 – 14th place
200m dash – Tichina Carmon – 29.85 – 53rd place
200m dash – Alisha Dickinson – 27.15 – 44th place
600 meter run – Ana Baleveicau – 1:39.20* – 8th place
600 meter run – Klaudia Szych – 1:43.76 – 10th place
600 meter run – Monica Izaguirre – 1:56.48 – 17th place
800 meter run – Ana Baleveicau – 2:24.91*# – 22nd place
800 meter run – Klaudia Szych – 2:29.10 – 28th place
800 meter run – Monica Izaguirre – 2:45.49 – 37th place
*NJCAA National Qualifying time
#Altitude Adjusted to 2:24.10
Complete results for the UNM Collegiate Classic: http://www.golobos.com/pdf9/2636494.pdf?ATCLID=209401936&SPSID=616891&SPID=87106&DB_LANG=C&DB_OEM_ID=26000
Dexter came into Cahoon Armory Friday the No. 2-ranked AA team in the state. But for the first half of the District 5AA game, the Colts gave the Demons a battle, coming back from a nine point deficit late in the first quarter to close within one at the half.
So while the final was a 63-43 Dexter victory, NMMI coach Pilar Carrasco was very pleased with his team’s effort.
“I was very, very happy with my kids,” he said. “Probably one of the best games this year. I know you might not be able to tell (by the score), but that’s a very good team. We were loose on a couple of executions, but I was happy with my boys. I was very, very happy.”
And despite the big margin at the end, Demon coach James Voight wasn’t pleased with how his team started.
“We just didn’t play very good (in the first half),” he said. “That’s all it was. We didn’t play very good. Battling among ourselves instead of focusing out there. But credit to (NMMI) for keeping it that close in the first half, but the second half, that’s how the game should have been the whole time.”
David Lopez put Dexter on the board just 10 seconds into the game, but after that the scoring came a little more slowly. The first NMMI bucket was a field goal by Mac Brown two minutes in, and the Demons slowly stretched their lead to 15-6 with 2:11 remaining in the first quarter.
But NMMI closed the gap a bit, getting three points from Blade Allen on a field goal and a free throw, and a crowd-pleasing trey by Dante Mora at the buzzer to cut the score to 19-12 after one.
The Colts continued to eat into the Demons lead in the second quarter, pulling to within three on a shot by Abraham Mier then within one with little more than a minute remaining. Lopez put Dexter back up by three but with :25 seconds remaining, Mora put in two on an assist from Brown and the Institute defense held the Demons scoreless on their last trip down, making the halftime score 27-26 Dexter.
But the second half was all Demons, as they stretched the lead to 43-30 after three and never looked back in the fourth.
“The second half was Dexter basketball,” Voight said. “We were able to put pressure on the ball, grab rebounds, get out and run and score the basketball.”
“They’re really good,” Carrasco said of Dexter. “We must be pretty decent when we play well. They just got about 10 ahead of us and then we didn’t execute the game plan which is what took it to 20.”
The Colts also couldn’t stop Demon Kevin Bonner, who led all scorers with 22 points, and late in the third NMMI top scorer Blade Allen (just missing a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds) had to sit down with four fouls, something Carrasco was not too happy about.
“When he picked up his third and fourth, they were silly fouls. Just silly fouls,” he said. “Especially his fourth, and he could have stayed in the game which maybe could have kept it in single digits if we had him.”
“We were able to attack the big kid and get him in foul trouble where he had to sit a little bit and that opened it up a little bit more for us,” Voight said.
The Colts also got double-digit scoring from Brown, who tallied 12, and Mora just missed with nine. The Dexter got points from everyone on the bench, with Lopez the only other Demon in double figures with 10.
Next up for Dexter is another district game, at Loving Tuesday, while NMMI hosts Eunice that same day. And with four more district games in the schedule, Carrasco is thinking positive.
“If my kids play like that all the time we’re going to be fine,” he said. “That’s the No. 2 team in the state. If we play them that way; if we play that way all the time, we’re going to be all right. That’s the problem, though, is we don’t play like that all the time. People are going to be ready to come give us their best, so we’ve got to be ready.”
With the District 3 swimming and diving meet set for Feb. 14 and 15 in Carlsbad, district foes NMMI and Artesia decided to get in one more competition Monday, facing each other in the Godfrey Athletic Center pool.
Because the pool is too shallow to allow diving or starting off blocks, the meet was more of what Colt coach Jan Olesinski called “a strong practice” than an official meet, but both teams gave it their best.
“We did great,” Olesinski said. “Everybody did good today. They tried their best.”
“They did OK,” agreed Artesia coach Shelley Ebarb. The Bulldogs have had a tough season, practicing at FLETC because the school pool is down for repairs, and having to travel to Carlsbad the last three weeks because the temporary pool is closed for maintenance. So they were excited to get one last chance to compete, even with illness wracking the team.
“Every day I have three or four out,” Ebarb said. “I’s either the head congestion; a cough; or the stomach bug. So every day there’s three or four out.”
Both teams have qualified a number of swimmers for state, and those athletes showed just what they could do Monday.
Colt juniors Luke Shereston and Alvaro Cordovez dominated the boys races, with Vaughn Jenson, Marcos Holland and Spencer Lane also swimming strong. Tose five, along with another five NMMI boys, are already qualified for state.
A much smaller roster of girls — only five — also has qualified for state, led by Amira Hindi, Samantha Ikard and Katie Darrah.
“We are doing very good,” Olesinski said of the NMMI team. “I believe we have one of the best years in my 25 plus years of coaching here.”
With that district meet still a qualifying event, the Colts have swimmers in nine individual races, plus three boys relays and one girls relay.
Ebarb said the Bulldogs also have qualified a number of athletes.
“Jonathan Darnell is our little star,” she said. “He’s a ninth grader, and he’s qualified in some individual events already. We’ve got the boys relays qualified. We’re having trouble getting all the girls to the same meet at the same time, to get them qualified.”
Meaning she’ll be hoping those swimmers will be healthy and be in top shape for the district meet in a week and a half.
Carlsbad will host that meet, which, besides the Cavemen, NMMI and Artesia, will feature teams from Hobbs, Clovis, Alamogordo, Las Cruces (all four schools combined) and Mesilla Valley Christian.
Qualifying relays and individuals will head to Albuquerque Academy Feb. 21 to compete in the state swim meet.
Swimmers are very hard to identify without numbers. If you can ID any of the following boys pics, let us know and we’ll credit them.