Clinging to a 3-point lead near the end of a back-and-forth game at East Mountain last Saturday, Estancia shifted its strategy from the long-ball to a power-in-the-paint approach.
Drayton Oberg drove the lane with a trio of layups for the visiting Bears, and despite a last-minute 7-0 run by the Timberwolves, Estancia escaped with a 54-53 victory.
“I told [the players] we’ve gotta go in transition and attack the basket, we can’t shoot any more threes, let’s just go at the rim,” Estancia head coach Daniel Pierce said.
The Bears (21-1, 4-0) had been nailing the 3-point shots early in the game—particularly in the first quarter when Reyez Herrera hit three treys and Cruz Moreno sank one.
Herrera led the Bears with 16 points, Oberg scored 15 and Moreno added 10.
Estancia built a 12-point lead midway through the second quarter.
But East Mountain (10-11, 2-2) cut the deficit to 3 points at halftime.
Aaron Talamante connected on consecutive treys early in the third quarter to fuel a 10-0 surge and boost the T’Wolves to a 4-point lead.
Talamante scored a game-high 20 points.
East Mountain’s Elias Padilla added 15 points.
“We made some adjustments on offense and we started getting to the rim,” East Mountain head coach Joe Vigil said.
The T’Wolves were holding a 41-39 advantage early in the fourth quarter before the Bears rode a 9-0 spurt to push ahead 48-41 with six minutes remaining.
East Mountain cut Estancia’s lead to 3 points with 4:25 left before Oberg took control in the paint to make it a 52-46 game with 1:55 to go.
“Our transition defense was a little slow there,” Vigil said. “If we don’t give up those three layups maybe it’s a different story at the end.”
A 3-pointer by Jose Perea ignited a 7-0 run by the T’Wolves with just over a minute to play but less than 10 seconds to go, Moreno grabbed the ball and cradled it until the final buzzer.
“East Mountain pushed us and I’m glad they did, we needed something to wake us up,” Pierce said. “That’s a solid team, they came to play.”
“Our defense was strong,” Vigil said. “Estancia’s a very good team, so when we keep a team like that in the low 50s, that’s all I can ask from our team, to give us a chance to win, and they did that.”
Estancia throttled Bosque 93-47 at home Monday, and hosts Cottonwood Classical Feb. 8.
The T’Wolves hosted Santa Fe Indian School Feb. 6.