March 21, 2013 Not that they needed reminding, but
the Laguna-Acoma boys basketball team are in a class of their own.
On Saturday, the top-seeded Hawks captured their first state
basketball title in the school's 64-year history by taking down
No. 3 Dexter, 51-39, in the Class 2A bracket before a large crowd
at the Pit in Albuquerque.
"This is too much to experience right now, it feels like it's
not even real," Laguna-Acoma senior point guard Anthony Carpio said.
"There is no other team on Earth I would do this with."
Hawk coach Ryan Peil shared Carpio's sentiments and went on
to say that his team was destined to win the championship after
being knocked out of the tournament, prematurely, in the quarterfinals
"I wouldn't want to coach any other team, the sad part is that
we have five guys graduating," Peil said. "That's going to be rough
and that was why we had to get it done today because these guys
don't have another opportunity. The seniors have to grasp that and
realize that they get one shot.
"They did that and I am so happy for them," he added.
With a deep bench, the Laguna-Acoma bunch wore down the Demons
as they stretched out a 27-22 lead midway through the third quarter
into a 45-31 cushion with just over two minutes left in the fourth
In that run, Carpio went on a tear and scored seven of his game-best
23 points while fellow senior Austin Jones helped out with six.
"They were pressing us so that created lanes for us," Carpio
said. "We got some easy buckets with back cuts."
Much to their dismay, the Demons had a tough time connecting
with the basket as they missed 12 shots in that stretch.
hurt and we're devastated," Dexter coach James Voight said. "We
worked so hard all year long and we just came up short. Our shots
were just not falling for us that usually do."
Despite trailing for all of the second half Voight said they
had their chances to get back into the game.
If our shots had fallen it would have changed the momentum,"
For the game Dexter made 13-of-43 from the field for 30 percent
with David Lopez leading the way with a dozen points while Kevin
Bonner and Kevin Paez added nine and seven, respectively.
Laguna-Acoma, meanwhile, went 20-of-38 for 53 percent. Most
of those shots were from close range. But the most telling part
between the two teams was the comfort level.
"I think we were just ready to play," Jones said. "We've been
waiting for this since before the beginning of the season."
"We were comfortable because we knew what we had to do," Laguna
guard CJ Salvador added. "As seniors we had step up our game to
show these young ones how to dictate the tempo of the game."
Of course they did that with their defense. Besides holding
Dexter to a dismal shooting performance, they also forced 17 turnovers,
which led 15 points on their end.
"We revolve around our defense," Salvador said. "That enables
us to win and it brought us this far. You can't win championships
without playing defense."
In addition to Carpio, Jones and Salvador, the Hawks will lose
Josh Paytiamo and Cameron Riley to graduation. Nonetheless Peil
said they'll enjoy this before they start thinking of next year.