Strong defensive efforts, Khweis help Taos roll past Grants

By Matthew Narvaiz
sports@taosnews.com
Posted 1/10/20

The Taos Tigers basketball team wasn't exactly scared by the full-court pressure that Grants applied when the two team's faced off at Otero Gymnasium on Monday (Dec. 6).

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Strong defensive efforts, Khweis help Taos roll past Grants

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The Taos Tigers basketball team wasn't exactly scared by the full-court pressure that Grants applied when the two teams faced off at Otero Gymnasium on Monday (Dec. 6).

Instead, the Tigers broke the Pirates' press on many occasions and scored a lot in transition on their way to a 75-60 victory.

"We executed and we finally finished the game really strong this time," Taos junior wing Abdul Khweis said when asked how his team performed. "It's a work in progress. This isn't the finished product yet. We are working every day to get better."

Khweis was Taos' most valuable player during the game as he led all scorers with 30 points -- many of which were layups off of turnovers, or fast break transitions started by his teammates.

Tigers head coach Hernando Chavez said that when Khweis gets going, he's tough to overcome.

"Once Abdul Khweis gets the ball in the open floor of the middle of the court, he's darn near impossible to stop," Chavez said.

Taos got the tip and had the first offensive possession to start the game but failed to score early on. Grants, meanwhile, had a couple drives before scoring its first basket on a layup inside.

But Taos' Isiah Jeantete quickly followed that up with a layup of his own to tie the game up. From there, the Tigers scored eight more points -- a 10-0 run -- before the Pirates got on the scoreboard again.

In the early going, Taos' full-court press gave Grants plenty of problems -- which, in turn, led to a whole bunch of fast breaks for the Tigers.

But Grants sophomore Colton Moore kept his team afloat, making layups when it mattered. Then at the end of the first quarter and quickly at the beginning of the second, Grants junior Romero Hudson made two key 3-pointers to tie the score up at 14 apiece.

That led to Khweis making sure his team stayed in the game, as he scored Taos' first seven points in the first quarter and 11 of the team's 15 points in the second quarter.

However, three additional 3-pointers from Grants kept them within striking distance and Taos led 29-27 heading into the locker room.

Chavez said that the scouting report told him that Grants' press was tough, but that once his team got the first dribble that they would be just fine -- and inevitably they were.

"Basically what I saw was a team that was out of flow, so to speak," Chavez said. "By the second half, we started to get our legs going again and starting to feel some flow and some chemistry."

It was in the third quarter that the Tigers really started to break away. After the Pirates had scored first on a layup, Taos went on a 9-0 run -- which included its only 3-pointer of the game from Estevan Cantú -- to take a 38-29 lead.

Taos took no more than five 3-pointers against Grants, Chavez said, and it has been a trend since their game against Santa Rosa.

Angel Limas came into the game in the final minute of the third quarter and scored the last four points for his team, giving Taos a 50-33 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

In the final quarter of action, Grants put up a whopping 27 points -- though that wasn't enough since the Tigers scored 25 of their own points.

For Taos, Armijo was the only other player to score in double digits as he had a total of 15 points. Limas finished with nine points and Cantú finished with five points, respectively.

The Tigers now have two straight tournaments that they will play in. First is the Horsemen Shootout at St. Michael's, and then the Hope Christian Invitational right after that.

The Tigers will play six games in nine days when that happens.

Chavez said that some players on his team like Khweis and Armijo are used to playing in back-to-back tournaments, but that this is what tests mental toughness in the end. Still, he's not counting his team out.

"We feel like we are conditioned," Chavez said.

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