Always within striking distance of the No. 1 4A team in the state, the Taos boys basketball team came up short on Dec. 21, losing to Bernalillo 71-68, in a non-conference contest at Otero Gym.
Freshman Abduhl Khweis led the home team with 22 points while senior Allen Martinez chipped in 15—all in the first half—and junior Quinn Moon dropped in 11.
The free-throw line proved to be where the game was won and lost. Bernalillo (11-0) made 23 of 28 attempts from the charity stripe—a third of their total points—while Taos (4-4) only managed to cash in on 10 of 23 trips to the line.
Ranked in the top 15 going into the game, the Tigers played the Spartans tough for the first quarter, building up a 13-4 lead halfway through the session before the Spartans went on an 8-0 run that brought the teams back to a 19-19 tie at the buzzer. The second quarter featured back-and forth-play with the lead never getting larger than three points. The half ended at 36-33 in favor of Bernalillo.
In the third quarter, the Spartans began to impose their will and reached the end of the quarter leading 50-43. Taos managed only 10 points in the quarter. They missed all five opportunities at the free-throw line while Bernalillo hit 4-for-5.
The Tigers got their free-throwing act together in the final quarter, knocking down seven of 10 chances. Junior Husam Khweis hit a three-point with about a minute left to draw Taos within 65-59. From then on, the two teams traded baskets until the Tigers stole the ball, and Moon scored to bring Taos to within two, 70-68. One more free throw by Bernalillo produced the final 71-68 tally.
Next up for the Tigers was their first district tilt against archrival Robertson Thursday (Dec. 28) in the Stu Clark Tournament with two more games to follow on Friday and Saturday.