With a little motivation, a little more luck, and a lot more of Seth Bailey, the Texico Wolverines are again the class of Class 2A.
Bailey scored 24 points, and the Wolverines defeated second-seeded Santa Rosa 48-46 Saturday morning at The Pit.
The Wolverines (29-3) won their second-straight title and fourth in school history less than 25 hours after Jose Posada's bank-shot 3-pointer as time expired gave the Wolverines a 58-57 semifinal win over No. 1 Mesilla Valley, who had led the game all the way.
"We wanted to prove we had a reason to be in the state championship game, not just by a luck-shot 3," said junior Seth Bailey, who hit a free-throw with 10 seconds remaining.. "We were fortunate, but we wanted to show everybody we were state champs."
Bailey scored on a 3-point play to kick off a 16-0 run that bridged the first and second quarters, in a game that had already featured two ties and six lead changes between the District 6-2A rivals.
The double-digit lead held until the Lions (28-5) caught fire in the fourth, with 7-of-8 shooting in a 3:13 stretch, four of them 3-pointers, for a 17-4 to take the lead with 3:38 left.
Other than the fourth-quarter hot streak, Lions coach Frank Ortiz felt little went the Lions' way - and that's not enough to beat a team of Texico's caliber, he said.
"As poorly as we played," Ortiz said. "I wasn't sure we were going to step up and make it a game."
They did, but Texico responded as guard Mario Posada hit a pair of free throws on the next possession to tie the game, then gave the Wolverines the lead for good on a free throw with 37.1 to play.
Even though Luscombe admitted the Wolverines added a new motion offense before the tournament started, there was little that either team needed to scout on each other.
"It's really tough," Bailey said. "We know their names, they know our names. We know their moves, they know our moves. It really comes down to a bounce of the ball."
And a few bounces at the free-throw line. After Posada gave Texico a 37-36 lead at the line, Lion forward Jeff Reeves drew a foul on a spinning layup. But Reeves, who led the Lions with 24, had both of his free throws rim out.
Bailey hit 1-of-2 on the other end and the Wolverine defense forced Ricardo Roybal to take an off-balance 3-point attempt as time expired.
Texico won the season series with the Wolverines 3-2, and avenged their 54-50 loss in the District 6-2 title game two weeks before.
The Wolverines graduated seven seniors off last season's state winner, making this season a surprise to Luscombe.
"I really thought we had a lot of work to do," said Luscombe, who has coached the Wolverines since 1989. "We had a great summer programs with these kids, and that's when I thought we had a chance to be pretty good again."
But even with a 22-game winning streak midway through the season, the Wolverines still felt they were being underrated - suspicions confirmed by their No. 4 seeding.
"(Mesilla Valley) walked in like they were going to run over us," Jose Posada said. "We didn't start well, but we finished as a team."
Though the Wolverines were all smiles during the trophy presentation, they turned stoic once it was time to reflect. That's because there's little time to celebrate, or even put the rivalry in the memory banks.
"We've got a baseball game Tuesday," Luscombe said. "Guess who we play? Santa Rosa."
Class 2A championship
At The Pit
Texico 48, Santa Rosa 46
Seth Bailey 7-14 9-12 24, Mario Posada 1-1 5-6 7, Mark Rivera 3-5 0-0 6, Lucas Walthers 3-7 0-0 6, Levi Richards 1-2 0-0 2, Jose Posada 1-3 0-0 2, Brett Anderson 0-1 1-3 1, Totals 16-33 15-21 48.
Santa Rosa (28-5)
Jeff Reeves 10-26 2-5 24, Joaquin Bachicha 2-2 3-4 8, Robert Serrano 4-10 0-0 8, Ricardo Roybal 2-6 0-0 6, Gary Agar 0-1 0-0 0, Ryan Olguin 0-1 0-0 0, Andres Sisneros 0-0 0-2 0, Ricky Flores 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 18-46 5-11 46.
Texico 14 15 11 8 -- 48
Santa Rosa 11 5 13 17 -- 46
3-pointers - Texico 1-4 (Bailey 1-3, Posada 0-1), Santa Rosa 5-12 (Reeves 2-5, Roybal 2-6, Bachicha 1-1). Rebounds - Texico 29 (Bailey 7), Santa Rosa 28 (Serrano 8). Total fouls - Texico 13, Santa Rosa 18. Fouled out -- None.