ELIDA — Elida needed an answer to a hot-shooting Des Moines Demon team in Saturday’s first-round game of the Class 1A basketball tournament. They found one in Tiger senior Wesley Gilmore.
Gilmore scored a season-high 28 points to lead the Tigers to a 63-58 win and put Elida on the road to Albuquerque.
“Des Moines is a tough team,” Gilmore said. “We had to give it our all to pull out the win.”
Elida coach Darrell Chenault pointed out that nearly anybody on the team is capable of stepping up and having a big night. He said it was just Gilmore’s night to shine.
“What a great way to go out in your last game at home,” Chenault said. “If he wasn’t as unselfish as he is, he could score 35 to 40 every night.”
Des Moines (19-9) led by as much as nine points through much of the third quarter.
“We played with great intensity (but) we didn’t play our best game,” Chenault said. “They came in here and shot the lights out and got us out of our game.”
Trailing 24-23 at the half, Demons Jimmy Atwater and Tabor Martinez sparked Des Moines to its first solid lead in the opening minutes of the second half with a 3-point shooting exhibition.
Elida (23-3) battled back to tie the score at 42 near the end of the quarter, then they took the lead for good when senior Trenton Chenault drove the lane to make it 46-45. After a turnover, seconds later Gilmore made it 48-45 on a reverse layup.
Gilmore said so many of the team, especially him and Chenault have played together so long it was a big help Saturday.
“We know where the other person is going to be when we drive the lane,” Gilmore said. “We don’t even have to look, we know they’ll be there.”
Chenault rocked the lid off the Elida Gym when he slipped in the back door on an in-bounds play for an easy layup to make it 52-47.
Two more treys by Martinez down the stretch bringing Des Moines within three points let Elida know that the Demons weren’t going away easy.
Gilmore got a basket in heavy traffic with 42 seconds left and with the add-on free throw made it 61-55. Chenault sank a pair of free throws with seven seconds left to seal the deal.
Ever Varela, one of the Elida seniors capable of lighting up the scoreboard, said the win was a team effort and credited younger players Cade Cathey and Kody Paiz with an excellent job of blocking out.
“The first half we didn’t run our plays too well,” Varela said. “Coach got onto us and we started running plays better.”
Des Moines was paced by Martinez, Atwater and Colby Kennedy with 14 points each and Casey Kennedy with 10. Martinez and Atwater each had four 3-pointers.
Elida will receive its pairing for quarterfinal action when seedings are made today.
PORTALES — Nick Bliss scored a game-high 25 points, and the Portales Rams jumped out to an 11-0 lead and held on late for a 57-47 victory over Hatch Valley Saturday night.
The fifth-seeded Rams play fourth-seeded West Las Vegas in a 1:15 p.m. Wednesday game at the Santa Ana Star Center.
“We didn’t play as well as we can play,” Portales coach Mark Gallegos said. “But that’s OK. There are eight teams left in the state playoffs and we’re one of them.”
Junior Billy Good added 12 for the Rams, who led by as much as 13 in the third but saw the visiting Bears cut the lead to five in the fourth.
Alex Martinez led the Bears with 24 points.
Springer — The Dora Coyotes found themselves with a long drive and a road state basketball first-round game Saturday night at Springer. But the Coyotes answered the call and advanced to the boys Class 1A second round with a 57-56 win.
The Coyotes were tied with the Red Devils 12-12 after the first quarter, and also tied at the half, 28-28.
The home team went ahead and took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter, where the Coyotes took control, outscoring Springer 20-16 in the highest scoring period of the game to notch the win and advance.
“(It was) back and forth the whole game,” Dora head coach Ty Thatcher said.
Dora senior Hector Fierro led the Coyotes with 18 points, followed by Clay Smith’s 14 points. Wesley Skelley added 11 points.
Following a seeding meeting on Sunday, Dora will play their next game Wednesday at Rio Rancho High School.