The Taos Tigers' 86-83 win over the Española Sundevils on Friday (March 1) for the District 2-4A title was among the more exciting games of the season.The …
The Taos Tigers' 86-83 win over the Española Sundevils on Friday (March 1) for the District 2-4A title was among the more exciting games of the season.
The Tigers were on fire from the start. They gained an early, 8-0 lead and closed the first half ahead 31-15. It wasn't that the Sundevils were playing poorly - they weren't. There was nothing they could do. It was as if, when in the hands of the Tigers, the ball was charmed - Taos almost couldn't miss. They made just over 80 percent of their first 16 shots.
The Sundevils were undeterred. They outscored the Tigers 23 points to 16 in the second quarter, sending the teams into the locker room with Taos ahead 47-38.
The cheerleaders of both teams were in attendance, and although the Tigers fans were physically confined to about an eighth of the total seat, they made at times more noise, roaring with delight and screaming their support.
For the first time this year, a reasonable person might have wished for ear protection. Although both sides cheered wholeheartedly, the general feeling was of mutual respect. Both teams helped one another up after spills.
The third period began with a few baskets for each team before the Sundevils started a charge, drawing within 5 points before the Tigers pulled away again. The period ended with the same point spread as the one before after both teams scored 16 in the quarter. It was 63-54 in favor of the Tigers at the buzzer.
Both teams dug deep in the final period. With around six minutes to go in the fourth, the Sundevils had clawed their way to a 5 point spread. The Taos fans took over the Española Valley High School gymnasium with sound, and Taos widened the gap again to 11.
Española wasn't through. At the two-minute mark, they trailed by only 4. With a minute left it was 7 again. It was impossible to hear the announcer.
But basketball fans know that a minute on the clock can be a very long time.
Two points from Española made it a 84-79 - a five-point game. Another field goal and it was 84-81. A single shot away from a tied game.
During free throws, both teams abandoned their "M-I-S-S, miss!" cheers and simply screamed at the top of their lungs.
A free throw from Quinn Moon made it 85-81, followed almost immediately by a Sundevil field goal for an 85-83 game with 14.3 seconds left on the clock. A free throw from Abdul Khweis made it 86-83, and that's how time expired.
The win was a joint effort by the Tigers: Justin Madrid had 20 points, Abdul Khweis had 19, Derreck Chacon 16, Husam Khweis 15 and Noah Armijo 12. Quinn Moon was back on the court.
After the game, Moon said, "That's the definition of a team right there."
Madrid said, "It feels good to come back here and get it done." Regarding the post-season he said, "We've gotta think about practice Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, until our game."
After the game, the district championship medals were distributed to the members of the Taos Tigers team. One Tiger didn't wear his for long. He gave it to a young fan.
Standing on the sidelines, a tearful young boy, Brian Mares, toyed with the district championship medal around his neck. When asked where he got it, he replied, "From Abdul."
He knows Abdul Khweis, "from the haircut shop," he said, and goes to all of the Tiger games to watch him play. Brian's mother, Yanet Mares, said, "Brian is Abdul's number one fan."
Brian Mares and the rest of the Taos Tiger fans can catch the first Taos playoff game at Valencia High School on Saturday (March 9) at 5 p.m.
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