After dropping four consecutive games to start the season and surrendering 60 or more points in each of those losses, East Mountain High School’s boys basketball head coach Joe Vigil decided his team needed to work on its defense.

The result has been back-to-back home victories, including last Saturday’s 73-28 romp over the Academy for Technology and the Classics.

“I think we saw an improvement today in our defense and it made a big difference,” Vigil said.

The game marked the fewest points the defense has allowed all season and the most points the T’Wolves have tallied in two seasons.

“When we’re playing good defense—and rebounding—we’re doing what we’re supposed to do,” Vigil said. “The defense helped set up our offense.”

While the defense held ATC scoreless during the game’s opening 5 minutes, East Mountain’s offense caught fire right out of the gate with an 8-0 run.

A pair of 3-point shots by Jose Perea and one by Kyle Roark helped lift the T’Wolves to a 19-4 first-quarter advantage.

Darryl Pennington’s back-to-back treys in the final 2 minutes of the second quarter made the score 38-16 at halftime.

“John [Spanjers] had a block that led to Elias [Padilla] hitting me in the corner,” Pennington said of his second trey. “I thought that really helped get our transition going.”

Pennington and Perea paced the T’Wolves with 15 points apiece.

Pennington nailed another 3-pointer to start the third quarter.

Midway through the frame Roark hit consecutive treys—one from each side of the arc—and the T’Wolves were sitting on a comfortable 34-point cushion.

“I was just trying to find an open shot,” Roark said, adding, “We came into this game with a lot of confidence.” He finished with four treys for 12 points.

East Mountain’s tenth 3-pointer of the game—a season high—was made by senior Keith McKinney with 3:40 remaining in the game.

“Last year I only had 4 points all season in varsity and I had 5 today so that was pretty cool,” McKinney said.

Leota Harriman
Leota Harriman

Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at news.ind.editor@gmail.com.