Estancia boys cruise to first-round state victory over Dulce

BEARS ADVANCE! Estancia's Reyez Herrera putting up a layup during the first quarter of last Saturday's victory over Dulce. Photo by G. Demarest.

Reyez Herrera flying to the hoop. Photo by G. Demarest.

Estancia High School’s boys basketball team exploded early and never looked back as they cruised to a 91-71 victory over the visiting Dulce Hawks last Saturday in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament.

The Bears (27-1, 8-0) came out using their tried-and-true formula of grabbing defensive rebounds and tossing long, back-court passes to an open receiver to attack the basket.

Four of Estancia’s five long passes—in the game’s first three minutes—went to Reyez Herrera, whose layups helped create a quick 12-0 first-quarter advantage. He scored a game-high 26 points.

Later in the opening stanza, Drayton Oberg got in on the attack with three consecutive layups to push the lead to 20-5. “We just stuck to what we’ve been doing all year—running and gunning,” Estancia head coach Daniel Pierce said.

Early in the second quarter, Mario Prieto’s 3-point shot from the top of the arc started a 16-0 barrage that boosted the Bears’ lead to 41-17.

During that four-minute scoring surge, Cruz Moreno drained a 3-pointer from the corner, and Oberg added an ESPN-worthy highlight: he stole a back-court Hawks’ pass, scampered all alone to the hoop and sledge-hammered a crowd-pleasing slam dunk.

“That was his first-ever,” Pierce said. “It was so loud at that point, it was out of control—I couldn’t even hear myself in the huddle.”

Drayton Oberg going up for a layup. Photo by G. Demarest.

Oberg and Jeremy Silva each scored 15 points; Prieto added 10, and Moreno chipped in 9.

The Hawks scattered a few 3-pointers throughout the contest but were never able to trim the deficit below double-digits.

“We wanted to keep them contained as much as possible and we were able to wear them down,” Pierce said, adding, “I’m very pleased with how we played, how we handled it—anytime you go into a state tournament everybody has a 0-0 record.”

With the first-round win, the Bears advance to today’s quarterfinals to face the No. 7 Tularosa Wildcats at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.