Santa Fe?s White leads way at Demons top Los Lunas
LOS LUNAS ? In the end, Santa Fe’s first half outweighed Los Lunas’ second half.
The Demons shot lights-out in the first two quarters and spent most of the final two quarters trying to protect an 18-point lead before finally taking down Class 4A’s No. 1-ranked Tigers, 49-43, on Tuesday night.
“We have a tremendous amount of respect for Los Lunas,” Demons coach Zack Cole said. “We have these games on our schedule for a reason. We want to play them.”
Four days after Santa Fe (8-1), ranked No. 7 in 5A, suffered a home-court loss to Rio Rancho, the Demons nearly ran Los Lunas (5-1) out of its gym with a sizzling display from behind the arc in the first half.
Santa Fe rained down seven 3-pointers before halftime ? three of them in the first quarter by 6-foot-6 sophomore shooting guard JB White ? as the Demons were efficient and even a little ruthless.
“They shot the ball extremely well, but I don’t think we came out very hard defensively,” Tigers coach Travis Julian said.
Fittingly, the half ended with a lengthy possession by Santa Fe, capped by a corner 3 from Antonio Lovato for a 27-13 lead.
“That’s us,” Cole said. “That’s who we are, a lot of strong guard play. When we’re unselfish, we’re really hard to guard.”
Los Lunas was down 34-16 midway through the third quarter before the Tigers surged on the strength of their defense.
Zanen Zeller’s 3 brought Los Lunas to within seven at 36-29, and he scored on a put-back moments later as the Tigers finished a 15-2 run to trail 36-31.
Later, Zeller canned consecutive 3s for a 44-41 game, and he had a look at a 3-pointer with 1:20 to go, but forced up an airball. The Tigers were as close as two points, 45-43, but a layup on the low post by White sealed the game.
White, who already has a scholarship offer from the University of New Mexico, finished with 21 points.
And White was pinned to the bench the entire second quarter after getting his second foul in the final five seconds of the first quarter.
Santa Fe led by six when White left. The Demons stretched it to 14 by halftime.
“It was very important to us,” said White. “We just came off a loss, and we were down and hurt, and we were looking forward to bouncing back.”
The loss galvanized the Demons, White said.
“After the game, a lot of the guys were in the gym,” he said. “And everyone showed up today.”
Zeller had 21 points to lead Los Lunas. The Tigers could get another shot at the Demons next week, since Santa Fe is entered in Los Lunas’ holiday tournament.