TEXICO — Texico senior Seth Bailey led his Woverines into the first round of the state tournament like a warrior. Sometimes warriors fall on the battlefield.
Even after leading all scorers with 25 points, Bailey and the Wolverines (25-3) were eliminated from the tournament 75-60 by the Tularosa Wildcats (21-6) Saturday.
Texico couldn’t overcome the one-two punch of Emery and Jim Coleman and a quick Wildcat transition game. Tularosa rushed to a 13-3 lead after the first quarter only to see the Wolverines claw their way
back before the half and lead briefly. Three quick turnovers and accompanying fast break baskets by junior Emery Coleman and senior Carson Carrillo put the Wildcats up 33-23 in the opening minute of the second half and Texico could never catch up.
“I think they looked a little tight there early,” Tularosa coach Eric Gutierrez said of Texico. “I knew they were going to come back on us though, they’re too great a team.”
Gutierrez, in his first year leading the Wildcats, credited his team’s fast break as the difference in the contest.
Texico closed the gap to within nine down the stretch, but forced turnovers and Bailey fouling out sealed the fate of the team that had won the last two Class 2A titles.
“We had a rough third quarter there and we got down 13 at the start of the game,” said Texico coach Richard Luscombe. “We just let them get up too much and were trying to catch up all night.”
This meeting was the first time that Texico has played Tularosa since the 2001 championship, which the Wolverines won. Luscombe said the battle Saturday between the two teams spoke to the need for a round
of 16 seeding in class 2A. He gave Tularosa lots of credit though.
“They’re by far the most athletic team in the state,” Luscombe said of the Wildcats. “We knew we were going to have matchup problems coming in.”
A choked-up Luscombe also expressed his appreciation for the job his team did in a physical game.
“We could have put our heads down and lost by 30 tonight,” he said. “I felt like they never quit. That’s one of the characteristics of this bunch, they play hard.”
Connor Doolittle and Quinn Winkles each notched eight points in the losing effort for the Wolverines.
Tularosa was led by Jim Coleman with 20, Emery Coleman with 18 and Carrillo with 15.