The fourth seed Tucumcari Rattlers lost 53-44 to fifth seed Santa Fe Prep in the quarterfinals of the 3A boys state basketball tournament.
“Fouls were an issue and they took away one of our bigger players against a team that is six-four, six-five and six-eighth in height,” said John Span. “When our tallest player is sitting on the bench it is a totally different game.”
Two of the Rattlers starters were in foul trouble at the end of the first half, freshman Zedric Henderson Greene, who had four fouls, and Michael Eldridge, who had three.
Span said foul trouble early on limited the Rattlers’ ability to keep up defensive pressure against the Blue Griffins.
Green fouled out in the third period and Daniel Lopez fouled out in the fourth, forcing the Rattlers to combat the size of the Blue Griffins with speed.
Span said fouled-out players made the Rattlers a different team, even though they tried to pick things up and find other ways to score in the second half.
“We also missed some open shots,” Span said. “If we are on, we are can be a hard team to beat, and we can even close gaps when we are behind.”
The Rattlers fought to chip away at the double-digit lead the Griffins held through much of the second half, cutting it down to a little as four points. As time began to run out, however, the Rattlers were forced to foul, and Santa Fe Prep extended their lead by making free throws. Span said the Rattlers shot only 12 free throws while the Blue Griffins shot 27 free throws.
The Rattlers finish the season with a 23-6 record.
San Jon Coyotes
The sixth seed San Jon Coyotes ended their 1A state tournament run on Wednesday with a 76-49 loss to the third seed Springer Red Devils.
The Coyotes, 18-7 for the season, had advanced to the quarter-finals match by beating 11th seed Wagon Mound 62-54 on March 7 in San Jon.