Texico tops Tucumcari in 3A title game

By Kevin Wilson
MANAGING EDITOR
kwilson@cnjonline.com
ALBUQUERQUE — The family joined the fraternity.

Behind an attacking defense and a 46-point, 21-rebound effort from Brannon Karger and Nathan Phipps, the Texico Wolverines joined the ever-growing fraternity of state champions with a no-doubt 77-52 Class 3A win over Tucumcari to claim its fifth title in school history and first since 2009.

Winners of 11 straight and 20 of 21 to close out the year, the second-seeded Wolverines (22-5) led by as many as 32 and gave the school its third title of the year, along with Friday’s girls win and November’s volleyball title.

“This is what we’d always worked for,” said guard Braden Fraze, who added 13. “I’d try to hit 10-of-10 free throws at the end of every practice. Last two, I’d say, ‘State title; this is to win state.'”

Staff photo: Kevin Wilson Texico senior Brannon Karger draws contact from Tucumcari defender Jose Flores-Duran in the second quarter of Saturday's Class 3A state championship at The Pit in Albuquerque. Karger had 24 points in Texico's 77-52 win.

Staff photo: Kevin Wilson
Texico senior Brannon Karger draws contact from Tucumcari defender Jose Flores-Duran in the second quarter of Saturday’s Class 3A state championship at The Pit in Albuquerque. Karger had 24 points in Texico’s 77-52 win.

It never came down to that, thanks to a 19-0 second-quarter run which saw the Rattlers (26-6) miss 12 straight 3-point attempts.

“It was like two nights ago,” said Texico coach Scott Karger, who was a seventh-grade waterboy for father Art Karger’s 1983 Lovington state title winner, which coincidentally also beat Tucumcari. “First quarter, we’d get comfortable. Then the second quarter, just like two nights ago, our defense stepped up, and that was the difference in the game. That’s what we preach: Defense wins championships. Everybody says it, but we believe it.”

Even with a late rally to cut the lead into the 20s, the fourth-seeded Rattlers struggled from the field with 19-of-65 shooting, including 8-of-38 from beyond the arc.

“The difference is they hit shots, and we didn’t hit shots,” said Tucumcari coach John Span, who led Tucumcari to a second-place finish in 2011. “The shots we’d hit throughout the tournament, we didn’t.”

John Paul Garcia, who scored 36 in Tucumcari’s 79-66 upset of top-seeded Lordsburg to reach the title game, still managed a game-high 28 points on 9-of-24 shooting.

“They trapped every once in a while, pressured our guards a little bit,” Garcia said. “We found the open players, but like Coach said, we didn’t hit shots.”

The Wolverines did, with Brannon Karger shooting layups and long distance for his 24 and Phipps’ double-double (22 points, 13 rebounds) leading Wolverine advantages of 44-20 in the paint and 50-29 on the boards.

“I’m fortunate to be one of those kids that has a key to the gym because of my father,” the younger Karger said. “I have no idea how Nate got a key. I’d come to the gym on a Saturday, and something would not be right with the way I left the locker room or something. I’d find out Nate was working. He busted his butt. He didn’t do it for himself. He did it for this team, and he did it for what we were able to accomplish today.”

Scott Karger, who never got to play for a state championship, was able to coach his son in its 2014 runnerup finish and their first title with what he considers his extended family.

“It’s unbelievable,” Scott Karger said. “Growing up, that’s what you work for, and that’s what you work for for him. I’m fighting back the tears, not just for him, but for all of these guys. They’re all Brannon. They feel no different to me. I praise them just like Brannon. I’ll rip their rear ends just like Brannon.”

The win marked the 14th time one school won both boys and girls state championships, with Hope Christian making it 15 and Melrose hoping to be No. 16 later Saturday. Texico is the only team to do it three times, and accounts for two of the three times a school did that and won volleyball (the other being 2000-01 Portales).Tucumcari was seeking its first state title since 1950, and has five runnerup finishes.

Class 3A
No. 2 Texico 77, No. 4 Tucumcari 52
Tucumcari (21-6) — John Paul Garcia 9-24 5-6 28, Daniel Lopez 3-6 0-0 8, Tyler Ferguson 3-9 0-0 6, Jose Flores-Duran 2-3 0-0 4, Joshua Lopez 1-4 0-0 3, Ronald Carmichael 1-9 1-2 3, Zedric Henderson-Greene 0-10 0-0 0, Billy Sandoval 0-0 0-0 0, Saul Ramos 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 19-65 6-8 52.
Texico (22-6) — Brannon Karger 9-19 5-7 24, Nathan Phipps 10-12 2-4 22, Braden Fraze 5-11 2-4 13, Dalton Thatcher 1-2 5-6 8, Tanner Dickerman 2-4 0-0 4, Rafael Maldonado 1-1 0-0 2, Lance Myers 1-2 0-0 2, Paden McDermid 1-2 0-0 2, Mason Golden 0-1 0-0 0, Brock Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 30-54 14-21 77.

Tucumcari 13 7 10 22 — 52

Texico 14 24 21 18 — 77

3-pointers — Tucumcari 8-38 (Garcia 5-17, Lopez 2-5, Lopez 1-4, Ferguson 0-3, Henderson-Greene 0-3), Texico 3-13 (Thatcher 1-2, Fraze 1-4, Karger 1-6, Myers 0-1). Rebounds — Tucumcari 29 (Henderson-Greene 7), Texico 50 (Phipps 13). Total fouls — Tucumcari 20, Texico 13. Fouled out — Ferguson.

Speak Your Mind

*