With a sizzling offensive attack that produced 255 points in three games, Estancia High School’s boys basketball team cruised past Cottonwood Classical Prep and Mountainair before outshooting the McCurdy Bobcats 93-82 to win the 81st annual Bean Valley Conference Tournament, Jan. 10-12 at the Bears’ home court.
It was the Bears’ third consecutive BVC crown and their fourth in the last five years.
“It’s special,” Estancia head coach Daniel Pierce said. “We’ve got five seniors, they’ll never play another BVC, and I told them they need to go off on a good note.”
The Bears (8-2) wasted no time establishing the tempo of the championship contest, building an 8-0 lead in the first few minutes and shooting 85 percent in the first quarter.
Estancia’s Cruz Moreno—the tournament MVP—buried four 3-pointers in the opening 8 minutes, including one at the first-quarter buzzer, to hoist the Bears to a 33-18 lead.
“That got me so hyped up, that was crazy, the whole crowd went wild,” Moreno said of his 3-ball at the close of the opening stanza.
Moreno’s fifth 3-pointer put the Bears up by 22 points early in the second quarter and he connected on his sixth later in the frame.
But the Bobcats (11-3) cut Estancia’s lead to 13 points at halftime.
McCurdy pulled within 9 points midway through the third quarter before the Bears boosted their lead to 64-48 by the end of the period.
Moreno’s seventh trey of the game pushed the lead to 69-50 early in the fourth. He finished 7 for 8 from beyond the 3-point arc with a game-high 34 points.
Estancia’s Drayton Oberg scored 21 points, Brian Walker added 14, Josh Thomas tallied 12, and Garrett Noblitt chipped in 7. All four received All-Tournament honors.
The Bobcats—who shot their share of 3s—pulled within 10 points four times in the game’s final 3 minutes but never got any closer.
“They’re very good, they shoot the ball very well,” Pierce said of the Bobcats. “I think we did what we had to do to get this win.”
The Bears beat Cottonwood Classical 81-35 in the tournament opener and the Mountainair Mustangs 81-26 in the second round.
Sandwiched around its loss to Estancia, Mountainair—the only Class 1A school at the tournament—beat Capitan 59-39 in the opener and lost 85-79 to Monte del Sol in the final game to finish in fourth place.
“We had our spurts,” Mustangs head coach Azan Chavez said. “Hopefully this will give them some confidence more than anything.”
Mountainair’s Gabe Padilla received All-Tournament honors.
On the girls’ side, Estancia’s Lady Bears (7-3) pounded Mountainair’s Lady Mustangs 42-7 in the tournament opener.
The Lady Bears beat Cottonwood Classical 49-19 the next day before falling to Class 3A Tucumcari 44-29 in the championship to finish second.
“I was very pleased—we played hard for 32 minutes [the first two games] and we just need to do that against all opponents,” Estancia’s head coach Mike Trujillo said. “Basketball is an emotional game, you’ve got to have passion, you’ve got to play hard, and we’re headed there.”
Estancia’s Kaitlyn Calhoon, Jaimey Fastnacht, Uriah Astorga, and Lainey Fastnacht all received All-Tournament honors.
Mountainair’s girls squad dropped two of three games at the tournament to finish sixth: after their opening-round loss to Estancia, the Lady Mustangs beat Monte del Sol 55-14 before falling 32-26 to Bosque in the consolation-bracket championship.
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.