RIO RANCHO — In the fourth quarter of a Class 2A quarterfinal game against Bosque School, Texico junior Seth Bailey put his head down and charged from the baseline for a basket.
It was the kind of determination needed for the Wolverines, and Bailey personally, in order to keep alive dreams of back-to-back state championships. Texico, with 14 points from Bailey and 15 more from sophomore Lucas Walthers, knocked off Bosque School 47-43 on Wednesday to advance to the semifinal round.
At the Santa Ana Star Center, the fifth-seeded Bobcats drew up a defensive scheme against Texico (27-3) with Bailey as the focal point. The strategy for Bosque (23-6) was partly predicated on an earlier meeting this season between the teams — a game won by the Wolverines in the championship game of their tournament.
“The box-and-one threw us for a loop. Seth had 25 against them the first time and I guess they felt they had to stop him,” Texico coach Richard Luscombe said. “We did not work on a box-and-one; we didn’t expect that at all. The idea had come up when we were preparing for the game, but I thought, ‘Nah, they’re not going to do that.’”
Despite the surprise, Texico consistently held a slight lead from the second quarter on. Senior Levi Richards supplemented the inside play of Walthers and Bailey by scoring nine points and providing an outside shooting threat.
But Bailey was also finally able to escape from Bosque’s defensive attention and drill a critical 3-pointer with 3:15 remaining.
At the four-minute mark, Walthers hit a shot to put Texico up 38-36. Bobcats’ forward Jesse Chavez soon after broke free for a fastbreak layup. Instead of tying the contest, Chavez’ shot was contested by a pair of streaking Wolverines’ defenders and went astray.
Texico quickly moved the ball back the other way and Bailey drained his 3-pointer from the baseline for a five-point lead.
“Anytime a guy misses a layup, it’s a foul right?,” joked Bosque School coach Craig Snow about the sequence. “I would’ve preferred that we had a jump stop out of him and a shot with two hands. But what really hurt us was we miss a layup and Bailey gets a three on the other end. That was a backbreaker.”
“I’m kind of a big boy. That’s kind of my game,” said Bailey, whose other trey was a 45-foot buzzer-beating bomb at the end of the first quarter. “But if I can’t shoot the outside shot, then I just go to the basket.”
With 19 seconds remaining, and Texico clinging to a one-point lead, Bailey hit a pair of foul shots to make the score 45-43. An additional free throw from Brett Anderson, three seconds later, pushed the margin up to three.
Led by 6-foot, 9-inch Ryan Schaeffer’s 13 points, Bosque had 3-point attempts from Schaeffer and Jonathan Allison miss in the last 10 seconds before Texico’s Mario Posada capped the scoring with a foul shot with a tenth of a second on the clock.
Texico will face top-seeded Mesilla Valley, a 79-46 victor over Navajo Pine, in an 8 a.m. game Friday at The Pit.
“I think it’s going to be a real interesting game. You’ve got Mesilla Valley and really good guard play and Texico with its inside game,” Snow said.