McCurdy blows the top off Santa Fe Waldorf/Desert Academy in 87-55 rout

While the Bobcats keep taking care of business in District 2-2A, Andres Martinez keeps increasing his production.

The McCurdy Charter School sophomore helped carry the boys basketball team in their away district matchup against Santa Fe Waldorf/Desert Academy, exploding for 26 points to lead the Bobcats (16-5, 3-0 in 2-2A) to an 87-55 thumping of the Wild Wolves Feb. 10 at Santa Fe’s Christian Life Gymnasium.

Martinez scored 14 of his 26 points in the first half, including nine in the second quarter during a stretch where McCurdy picked up the intensity and started to run and gun in route to a 41-31 advantage at halftime.

That production and pace held true in the second half, as the Bobcats put up a pair of 23-point efforts in the third and fourth quarters to outscore Waldorf/Academy, 46-24, in the second half. They increased their lead to 64-40 after three and built the margin to as large as 41 points (84-43).

“It was a good team effort and all the guys came out (strong) and we kept running,” McCurdy head coach Ernesto Espinoza said. “They only used six, seven guys, and our guys kept pushing it and kept pushing it, kept the pace up and made them work and I think that was the difference in the game.”

Martinez was in rhythm on offense, but he had to work even harder on the defensive side of the floor, as he drew the tough matchup of guarding the Wild Wolves’ 6-foot-4 senior sharpshooter in Liam Otero.

Otero — never afraid to let the ball fly from well beyond the 3-point line — went off for 14 points in the first quarter, including a quartet of 3-pointers. He finished with a game-high 33 points, but Martinez kept the senior in check in the second half and Otero was held to just one make from the field in the final 16 minutes.

“Last couple games he’s been playing really well and he’s been all over the court,” Espinoza said about Martinez. “Another part of his game we hadn’t really seen was his defense and he stepped up real well against the No. 10, the Otero kid. Every game he just gets a little bit better and gets more confidence.”

Martinez said he’s been pushed in practice and received that boost of confidence and encouragement from his teammates as the season has progressed. He’s also taking advantage of a 4-inch growth in height from his freshman season.

“I always practice that in practice and I’m ready to lockup the best scorer on the other team,” Martinez said.

When asked if that is a role the coaching staff has assigned to him as of late, Martinez said it will be now.

“Now they are, definitely after tonight,” he said.

The Bobcats largest deficit was just five points, taking place early after the Wild Wolves jumped out to an 11-6 lead in the first quarter after a triple by Will Smith, following two early Otero 3’s.

Espinoza was quick to call a timeout to settle his players and they responded with a 7-0 run, which included back-to-back 3-pointers from Ernesto Martinez and Kemmer Croff. After taking a 15-14 lead, McCurdy never surrendered the lead for the duration of the game.

Croff scored 15 points for the Bobcats and Ubaldo Barela was right behind with 14 of his own.

Through the first three district games, McCurdy has outscored their opponents by an average of 39 points, but they will face their biggest challenge from within the district when Monte Del Sol Charter School (15-8, 5-0) travels to Española at 6:30 p.m., Thursday (2/14).

The Bobcats defeated the Dragons, 68-54, on Jan. 11 during the Bean Valley Tournament in Estancia.

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