Horsemen rout Moriarty, eye district foes
There are potential stumbling blocks ahead to be sure, but make no mistake about it; the most brutal part of the regular season schedule is now a thing of the past for the St. Michael’s boys basketball team.
The top-ranked team in the latest Class 3A coaches poll completed its nondistrict slate Saturday night with the final round of the round-robin Horsemen Shootout. Behind balanced scoring that saw 14 of the 15 active varsity players get at least two points, the Horsemen (9-7) routed visiting Moriarty, 84-58, in Perez-Shelley Memorial Gymnasium.
They’ll open their 10-game District 2-3A schedule Jan. 23 against Santa Fe Prep.
“We talked about this, about the temperament we have to have in the district and, in my opinion, that started for us Thursday night,” said St. Michael’s head coach David Rodriguez. “We also talked about it being a dress rehearsal. We know the state tournament’s not three days in a row but it’s still three days and you have to be consistent each day. That’s what we were working on here.”
The Horsemen went 2-1 in the Shootout, losing Friday to Silver.
They dominated Saturday’s game from the middle of the second quarter on. With the score tied at 17, they went on a 12-0 run sparked by 3-pointers from Thomas Wood and Devon Flores. They took a 10-point lead into halftime and then exploited Moriarty’s lack of ball handlers in the third quarter to blow the game wide open.
The Pintos (2-11) turned the ball over 14 times in the period, helping St. Michael’s extend its lead to 35 by the end of the quarter. The Horsemen forced 33 turnovers for the game and had 11 offensive rebounds to Moriarty’s four by the end of the third quarter.
It allowed Rodriguez to use a revolving door of substitutes over the final 10 minutes, giving some of the JV floaters a chance to get some time on the varsity roster.
Hayden Lee (13) and Dominic Morgan (11) were the only double-digit scorers for the Horsemen, who erupted for 35 points in the third quarter. Lee also grabbed a team-high five rebounds and was, once again, extremely active on the offensive glass.
“We have some people that can play, but against the bigger schools we didn’t have that coming off the bench,” Rodriguez said. “Some nights we’d have the first group doing a good job and the second group not doing anything, then other nights where the second group would hold steady and the first wouldn’t. I think they’re starting to believe in each other more, trusting each other.”
Despite the seven losses, the Horsemen are considered the heavy favorite in 2-3A. District rivals West Las Vegas, Robertson and Santa Fe Indian are also ranked in the top 10 in 3A, so Rodriguez is taking a cautious approach to what lies ahead.
“You go to West, you go to Robertson and you get a good game from the Indian School and you’ll find out real quick you need to be ready,” he said. “Our goal is to get these 10 games and get to state, but I do like where this team is right now.”