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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Monday, February 09, 2004

Eagles rally past Devils to stay in playoff race

Staff Writer

Just as it appeared as though the second meeting of the season between the Pecos Eagles and Presidio Blue Devils was going to go the same way as the first one did, the Eagles found some offense to get back into the game, and then used some defense down the stretch to pull out a victory that kept them in the District 4-3A playoff race.

The Eagles led for much of the first half of their first meeting with Presidio, then fell apart in the third period and allowed the Blue Devils to go on to a 16-point victory. Friday night at home, Pecos led by 10 points early in the second period, but were up by just three at halftime and were outscored 10-0 in the first four minutes of the second period to fall behind by a 34-27 margin. But this time, the Eagles were able to stop the bleeding and get back into the game over the final four minutes of the period, narrowing the lead to just 41-40 by the start of the fourth quarter. Pecos would gain, and then give up the lead, one more time in the final period, before taking the lead for good with 2:10 to play and then using a couple of defensive stops to hold off the Blue Devils for a 60-54 victory.

"We knew going into the game that no matter what we do on offense, if stick to our defensive game play and keep No. 52 (Esequiel Hernandez) and No. 30 (Hector Rodriguez) off the boards, we knew we were going to have a chance," said Eagles' coach Joe Flores.

Rodriguez, who scored 19 points last year, when Presidio held off Pecos down the stretch, and 19 again in last month's victory, was held to just 11 points this time, while Hernandez had just six points and the other post, Amjuar Rodriguez five, three of that coming on a 3-point jumper.

The teams swapped the lead four times in the opening period. A Justin Lara jumper put Pecos on top first, while Ricardo Morales would give the Eagles back the lead twice, on a lay-up midway through the quarter, and on two more in the final minute of the period, after baskets by Hernandez and Hector Rodriguez put Presidio ahead 10-7.

v Morales' baskets actually started a 13-0 run by the Eagles. Oscar Parada opened the second period with a lay-up, and Jose Reyes then hit a lay-up and two jumpers, one from three-point range, to give Pecos a 20-10 lead. Isaiah Natividad stopped that run with a 3-pointer of his own, and Presidio closed out the period by scoring seven of the final nine points to turn a 25-17 lead into a 27-24 margin.

Guards Jorge Vengas and Jacob Ramirez led Presidio's 10-0 run at the start of the second half, getting four points apiece, while Hernandez also added a basket. All but two of those points were from the inside, while the Eagles had trouble getting any offense going.

Saul Pina's lay-up finally broke the streak, and Lupito Bustamantes followed with a jumper after a Navtividad foul shot that cut the lead to four. Victor Reyes would get his first points of the night as the period ended, cutting the margin to one, and Pecos opened the fourth quarter with a Morales lay-up and another 3-pointer from Jose Reyes, which put the Eagles ahead 45-41. But Ramirez then hit a 3-pointer and Hernandez and Sergio Montoya followed with baskets, and Presidio was ahead by three. Morales then picked up his fourth foul midway through the period, and the Blue Devils had a chance to go up by five when Victor Reyes came up with a steal and lay-up, then added another steal on the next trip downcourt that led to a tying free throw by Morales.

"Tick (Reyes) went above and beyond in that last period, both defensively and offensively," said Flores. "He took care of the basketball and did everything a point guard needs to do in a critical ballgame."

Ramirez hit two foul shots to give Presidio a 52-50 lead, but then Parada answered with a pair of free throws to tie the game, and Pina put the Eagles ahead to stay with a lay-up. Reyes then had his third steal, which led to two free throws and a 54-50 lead with 1:55 to play, and then he would drive in for a lay- up with 55 seconds remaining, after a defensive stop at the other end by Pecos.

Ramirez got the Blue Devils back within three with a 3-pointer, but Reyes would hit two more foul shots at the 35 second mark, and after Hector Rodriguez hit one foul shot with 23.7 seconds to play the Eagles were able to break the Blue Devils' press, as Reyes found Lara alone for a game-clinching lay-up. The win tied Pecos for fourth place in the district standings with Presidio, both with 2-5 records. The Eagles go to Kermit on Tuesday night and would like to get a win there, but more importantly, need a win at home by Presidio over third place Monahans to keep their playoff hopes going. The Loboes are 4-3 after losing to Greenwood on Friday and a win at Presidio would forced Pecos to sweep their final three games to have a shot at a playoff spot.

PRESIDIO (54) Venegas 1 2-2 4; Tavarez 0 0-0 0; Ramirez 5 4-4 16 Valdez 0 0-0 0; Natividad 2 1-2 6; Montoya 1 0-0 2; H. Rodriguez 4 3-5 13; Iaquico 2 0-0 4; A. Rodriguez 2 0-0 5; Hernandez 3 0-0 6. Totals 20 10-13 54. PECOS (60) Parada 4 4-5 12; Morales 5 1-3 11; Pina 2 0-1 4; J. Reyes 5 0-0 13; Lara 4 0-0 8; Bustamantes 1 0-0 2; V. Reyes 3 4-4 10; Medina 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 9-13 60. Presidio 10 14 17 13 -- 54 Pecos 11 16 13 20 -- 60 Three-point goals: Presidio 4 (Ramirez 2, Natividad, A. Rodriguez), Pecos 3 (J. Reyes 3). Fouled out: None. Total fouls: Presidio 18, Pecos 15.

Pecos uses foul shooting to post win over Presidio

Staff Writer

First quarters have not been good to the Pecos Eagles girls' basketball team in District 4-3A play this season. And the Eagles did not have a good first quarter on Friday against the Presidio Blue Devils, in the final home basketball of the 2003-04 season.

v But "bad" in this case is relative. Presidio - which scored just 18 points in their entire game against Kermit last Tuesday - put in 15 points in the first seven minutes of Friday's game against the Eagles and held a seven-point lead. But Vanessa Garcia led a comeback that got the Eagles to within two just before the end of the quarter, and the Eagles would ride some hot foul shooting in the second period to a seven-point halftime lead, on the way to an eventual 67-49 victory.

"I was afraid the same thing that happened the last two years would happen again - we'd win the first two games and then let up in the third," said Eagles' coach Veronica Valenzuela. "I talked to them before the game about not taking it lightly, because they're not going to give it to you."

While two of Pecos' four wins this season had come at Presidio, the Blue Devils came out on Friday much more active on the court, as they went out to a quick 8-2 lead and would go up by as much as eight points, at 14-6, midway through the quarter. But Presidio's aggressive play came with a price, as the Blue Devils put Pecos into the bonus situation six minutes into the game.

Danielle Garcia missed the Eagles' first one-and-one chance, but beginning with two foul shots by Vanessa Garcia with 38 seconds left in the period, Pecos would hit 19 free throws out of 23 attempts before the first half was over. That included a stretch over a 21/2 minute period at the end of the quarter when 11 of the Eagles' 13 points came from the foul line, as they turned a 23-20 deficit into a 33-23 lead.

"Vanessa stepped it up when we needed someone to do that," said Valenzuela. Garcia, who also had a lay-up and foul shot just before the end of the first period, ended up going 10-for-11 on the night from the line.

Lily Valdez also hit four straight foul shots early in the second period, after a three-point play by Arelia Levario and a lay-up by Elfida Olivas widened the Blue Devils' lead back to seven points, at 20-13.

Meanwhile, Pecos' leading scorer on the season, Leslie Rodriguez, had one of the Eagles' few foul line missed in the first half, and was held to only one point in the opening two quarters. But the senior would come out and score Pecos' first six points of the third period, and ended up with 15 points overall in the half, as the Eagles widened their 33-25 halftime margin to 45-29 by the start of the fourth quarter.

Both teams were in foul trouble over the final eight minutes, with five players eventually fouling out, and the Eagles' foul shooting finally cooled off over the last five minutes of play. But by then Pecos' lead had widened to as many as 20 points, and Presidio would get no closer than 17 the rest of the way. The 67 points was the most by the Eagles this season, and in addition to Rodriguez and Vanessa Garcia, who also finished with 16 points, Danielle Garcia was in double figures for Pecos with 12. Olivas had 10 to lead the Blue Devils, who are now 0-9 in district play.

v Pecos is 2-7 going into their final game of the season against Kermit, which is tied for first with Monahans in the district standings. The Yellowjackets beat Fort Stockton on Friday, while Monahans downed third place Greenwood.

PRESIDIO (49) Medrano 2 5-8 9; Levario 4 1-5 9; Velasquez 1 2-2 4; Telles 3 0-0 6; Olivas 3 4-7 10; Santillon 1 0-0 2; Pantoja 0 0-0 0; Lopez 2 0-0 4; Armendariz 1 1-4 3; Carrasco 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 13-26 49. PECOS (67) Rodriguez 5 6-10 16; Carrasco 1 0-2 2; D. Garcia 3 6-9 12; M. Mendoza 1 0-0 2; Valdez 0 5-6 5; O. Mendoza 0 3-4 3; V. Garcia 3 10-11 16; Armendariz 3 3-6 9; Mazone 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 33-48 67. Presidio 15 10 4 20 -- 49 Pecos 13 20 12 22 -- 67 Three-point goals: None. Fouled out: Presidio, Medrano, Levario, Carrasco. Pecos, V. Garcia, Carrasco. Total fouls: Presidio 35, Pecos 33.

Swimmers sweep regionals again

Staff Writer

The script for the Region I-4A Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday in Lubbock played out about the same as the District 4-4A finals had gone two weeks earlier for the Pecos Eagles.

The Eagles again saved their best efforts for Saturday, rallying to win several races after finishing second in Friday's prelims at the Pete Ragus Aquatic Center, and even coming up with another surprise first place finish in one event, as the boys and girls teams swept the regional titles for the fourth straight season.

The boys, who had won nine of 12 titles at district competition, did event better at regionals, capturing first place in all but one event. The girls, who had swept all 11 swimming finals at district, didn't figure to do as well at regionals, which turned out to be the case. But the were able to sweep all three relay events and took five of the eight individual events as well, earning them the automatic berths into the Class 4A state finals at the Jamail Center in Austin on Feb. 19-20.

"Out of 11 new regional records we set nine of them," said Eagles' coach Terri Morse. "We also set five new school records."

Morse said she shuffled her relay lineup for the girls' finals, after Pecos finished behind El Paso Chapin in both the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays on Friday.

"I talked to my girls and told them the split they would have to do," she said about the medley relay. "I knew Lara Jackson on the breaststroke leg would pull them ahead of us, but I knew with the butterfly and freestyle is we could stay within reach we could have a chance."

Teddie Salcido, Lindsey Shaw, Catherine Minjarez and Susan Moore cut 31/2 seconds off their time to win on Saturday with a 2:01.04 effort, while Chapin's time went up by one second, and they finished in 2:03.61.

In the 200 freestyle race, Chapin knocked 11/2 seconds off their time in the prelims, but Pecos' team of Minjarez, Moore, Ashley Horsburgh and Amie Reynolds cut the prelim time by 31/2 seconds, finishing with a 1:46.57, seven-tenths of a second in front of the Huskies. Things were easier for the 400 freestyle relay team of Salcido, Horsburgh, Betsy Lujan and Jessica Minjarez. They swam a 4:04.62 on Saturday, which was slower than their prelim time but still 51/2 seconds ahead of runner-up Andrews.

"I knew Chapin would be tough in the 200 free relay, and from watching the way Andrews had been swimming the 400 free relay I thought we could beat them without Catherine, so I decided to use her where I thought we needed her most," Morse said. "I really wanted to win the 200 out of spite, because the other coaches had been taking bets on whether we would false start for a third year in a row."

Pecos' boys lost on Friday to Andrews in the prelims of the 200 medley by over a second. But the team of Will Oglesby, K.W. Winkles, Matt Elliott and Daniel Quintana would cut their time by nearly five seconds the next day, winning with a 1:42.92 time, 11/2 seconds up on Andrews, which did earn an at-large state berth.

In the 200 free relay, the Eagles lost in the district prelims to Andrews then came back to take the finals. This time, Elliott, Quintana, Max Key and Kyle Winkles edged Andrews by .13 seconds on Friday, then beat the Mustangs by 11/2 seconds on Saturday, with a 1:32.18 time. Andrews again earned an at-large state berth, while in the 400 free relay, Oglesby, Key and both Winkles swam a leisurely time of just under 3:36 on Friday - still good enough for first over El Paso Burges - then knocked over 11 seconds off that on Saturday to win with a 3:24.54 effort.

"We knew the boys could come back on Saturday," Morse said. "I just told them (on Friday) just to keep track of their times. I didn't want them to end up in an outside lane or miss making the finals by one second."

The biggest surprise of the day came in the 100 freestyle, where freshman Kyle Winkles, who finished fourth at district, edged Andrews' Nathaniel Cook for first place by .2 second, winning with a 51.08 time. Cook had place first and Winkles second on Friday, while Quintana ended up third both days, going 52.31 in the finals.

"That race was a big surprise because Nathaniel Cook took it out in the prelims in the 50s," Morse said of Winkles' win. "Both our kids had done 52s on Friday, and I said I didn't know if we could take him out, but I told them let's just get on the medals stand, and Kyle ended up out-touching him. I think Kyle had the most shocked look on his face when I went over to congratulate him."

Elliott, who won at the 100 yard butterfly at district, moved up from third place on Friday to beat Big Spring's Mark Sheedy and Andrews W.D. Brannon in the finals, cutting four seconds off his time to win with a 55.29 effort. Key and K.W. Winkles again placed 1-2 in the finals of the 100-yard breaststroke, as they did at district and at regionals a year ago, and for the second straight year Winkles earned an at-large berth to state.

Key won with a 1:01.55 time, while Winkles' 1:03.30 gave him the seventh at-large spot. Key also captured the 50-yard freestyle, going 22.22 to beat Cook, after just edging the Mustangs' swimmer on Friday. In the race before that, Winkles earned a state berth by taking the 200 individual medley with a 2:04.36 time, while Matt Oglesby placed second.

The other victories for the boys came from Will Oglesby in the 100-yard backstroke and 500 yard freestyle. The senior broke the 5-minute mark on Saturday in the 500, winning with a 4:59.63 time, and took the 100 backstroke with a 55.82 time, after nipping Andrews' Dustin Rex in Friday's prelims. Dustin did advance to state with an at-large berth.

Kyle Winkles placed fourth in that race, while the other finishes for the boys included a fourth and fifth by Quintana and Elliott in the only race Pecos didn't win, the 200-yard freestyle; and a fourth by Matt Oglesby in the 100 fly. Michael Juarez, who won the 1-meter diving competition on Thursday, placed 12th on Friday in the 500 free.

Salcido won the girls' 500 free after taking the 200 free, and Catherine Minjarez captured the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly for Pecos' girls. Salcido swam a 5:46.27 to take the 500, after winning the 200 with a 2:12.10 time. Jessica Minjarez was one second behind her in that race to place second, and finished third in the 500 free.

Catherine Minjarez won the 200 medley with a 2:23.83 time, two seconds ahead of Shaw in second place, and later swam a 1:04.94 to win the 100 fly. Pecos' other win came from Susan Moore in the 100 freestyle, who rebounded from a third place finish in the 50 free to earn a state berth with a 57.58 time. Horsburgh, who was third in the prelims on Friday, passed Andrews' Nancy Wallace for second, after Wallace had passed Moore to place second behind Chapin's Lara Jackson in the 50 free.

The other results for Pecos included a second by Reynolds behind Jackson in the 100 breaststroke and a fifth 200 medley; a third by Shaw in the 100 breaststroke; a seventh by Lujan in the 100 freestyle and an eighth in the 50 free and a fourth by Ashley Mendoza in the 500 free. Mendoza placed ninth on Friday in the 200 free and Cynthia Marmalejo was 13th in the 500 free.

Overall, the Eagles finished with 117 points on the girls' side, while Andrews beat Chapin for second by a 49-45 margin. On the boys' side, Pecos won by a 127-54 margin over Andrews, with Big Spring third with 42 points. The twin wins earned Morse Region I Coach of the Year honors, while Oglesby and Juarez won Class 4A Outstanding Male Swimmer and Diver honors. Diving coach Joan Capshaw also earned regional honors on the boys' side.

At the state meet in two weeks, the Eagles will be trying to improve on their fifth place finish on the boys' side from last year, while the girls will try to move up from the 16th place finish they scored in Austin a year ago. ":I haven't had a chance to check all the times yet, but from the ones I've seen it looks as though it's going to be a fast meet," Morse said.

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