East Mountain High’s boys basketball team picked up its first district victory of the season last Saturday with a 64-42 win over the visiting New Mexico Military Institute Colts.
But despite the 22-point difference in the final score, the win was more a tale of two halves.
With three players, including starters Aidan Aragon and Kyle Roark, sitting out the first half for disciplinary reasons, East Mountain had to juggle its roster.
Darryl Pennington, in his first start since missing two games due to a concussion, brothers Elias and Isiah Padilla, and a handful of reserves shouldered the task of holding off the fast-paced Colts.
“I was super excited to be back,” Pennington said. He finished with 12 points.
But the Colts bolted out of the gate and used a 9-0 run to take a 12-4 first-quarter advantage while the Timberwolves shot a mere 1-for-11.
NMMI extended its lead to 12 points by halftime. “We asked the other guys, the next man up, to step up and they did their best,” East Mountain head coach Joe Vigil said.
Early in the third quarter the Colts sank a quick bucket to go up 28-14, but then they went ice cold for more than 8 minutes and didn’t score again until the fourth. Meanwhile, with its regular starters back in the lineup, East Mountain caught fire.
Behind the shooting of Aragon the T’Wolves erupted on a 20-0 run—their biggest run of the season.
Aragon finished with 21 points.
“I told [Aragon and Roark] they were going to sit the first half but when they came back in, I needed 16 good minutes of basketball from them,” Vigil said. “So we turned it into a positive, and I give them credit for that.”
The T’Wolves extended their lead to 20 points with 2:30 remaining in the game.
“It was kind of Jekyll and Hyde, because in the first half things didn’t go our way and in the second half everything went our way, but that was part of the plan—let’s get to the third quarter and see what we can do from there,” Vigil said.
The win snapped East Mountain’s two-game losing streak and improved its record to 7-14 overall, 1-0 in District 4-4A.