Los Lunas clears huge hurdle, beats Santa Fe
LOS LUNAS — Travis Julian had done the math. The shortterm math, sure, but far more pressing on his mind was a specific long-term calculation.
“I haven’t slept for three nights,” the Los Lunas High boys basketball coach said. “I knew how big this game was.” Yes, No. 4-ranked Los Lunas put the District 5-5A regular-season boys basketball title in its grasp with a 48-35 victory over visiting Santa Fe on Tuesday night.
That was part of the equation, since the Tigers, with three more victories in the final 1½ weeks of the regular season, will secure that first-place position in 5-5A.
Tuesday had urgency beyond that: if Santa Fe had beaten the Tigers, there was a strong possibility that Los Lunas would become a double-digit seed for the state tournament — and surely on the road for the first round.
“We had to have this win for us to have a home game and a good seed at state,” Julian said. “But it’s not over yet.”
Sophomore guard Jalin Holland had 14 of his game-best 21 points in the first half for the Tigers (194, 6-1 in 5-5A), who led comfortably throughout in what proved to be an oddly unemotional type of victory given the stakes and the large crowd on hand.
Los Lunas led Santa Fe (14-9, 5-2) by at least 10 points for most of the final 2½ quarters in a largely anticlimactic showdown.
At the moment, it is Rio Grande that is the problem for the Demons. Santa Fe’s recent loss to the Ravens is why Santa Fe fell a full game behind Los Lunas in the 5-5A standings; the Demons beat the Tigers 58-54 in Santa Fe on Jan. 21.
The Demons led the rematch for exactly 25 seconds, early in the game. The multi-talented, 6-foot4 Holland had nine points, including a three-point play, in the first quarter alone.
“(We treated this game with) a lot of importance,” said Holland. “We came in really focused, locked in; we really needed to win this game.”
Holland drained a 3 from the top of the key with 2:04 left in the half, putting the Tigers in front 26-15.
Geleio Griego added 13 points for Los Lunas, including three 3s. No one for Santa Fe finished in double figures as the Tigers’ defense clamped down.
One of Santa Fe’s top players, junior guard Lukas Turner, went down late in the third quarter with an injury and did not return.