There’s certain games that can pop out on the schedule that players and coaches alike know is a must-win.
No such more was the case for the Mesa Vista High School boys basketball team in their Jan. 31 home matchup with district foe Questa High School.
The Wildcats (1-12) came into Mesa Vista Gymnasium ranked 29th in Class 2A out of 36 teams (one of four teams with a lone victory) while averaging 33 points per game and a mere 19 in their previous two losses against Escalante and Mora High School.
The Trojans (5-14) — who were off to an even 1-1 start in District 2-5A — certainly understood the opportunity at hand and took full advantage by crushing Questa, 68-46, to improve to 2-1 in the district.
“We needed to get this one, but every district game is important,” Mesa Vista head coach Benito Maestas said. “We couldn’t have any letdowns and at any given day, anybody can be beaten.”
After a back-and-forth first quarter, which featured a 7-0 jumpstart for the Trojans and an 8-1 response by the Wildcats to tie the game at eight apiece, Mesa Vista rode their press defense to build a 36-19 lead at halftime.
Damian Trujillo benefited in many of the transition points off turnovers, and the junior scored 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second quarter.
“Our press was run well tonight and it’s been key for us the last two years,” Maestas said. “When we run it right, we force a lot of turnovers and as the season has gone by, we’ve got a little better at it each game.”
In this case, the Trojans got a little bit better at it each quarter, and it helped them outscore Questa 22-11 in the second and 17-9 in the third.
Mesa Vista snagged a 25-point lead with 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter after Danny Gollas hit nothing but the bottom of the net on a 3-pointer from the left wing, and they carried that 25-point lead into the final eight minutes, ahead 53-28.
With the luxury of holding the large advantage, Trujillo sat on the bench throughout the duration of the fourth quarter, along with several of the other starters.
“We shared the ball well and it was great to get some other players some playing time who haven’t got a lot throughout the whole season,” Maestas said.
The Trojans’ willingness to share the ball showed in the scoring column as well.
After Trujillo’s 24 points, Julian Quintana and Alejandro Trujillo both chipped in 10, Gollas had nine and Jose Trujillo scored eight — all in the fourth quarter.