Updated Feb. 15, 2018.
The last time the Taos Tigers beat the West Las Vegas Dons during the “district” season was Feb. 4, 2015. Since that thunderous home win against a heavily favored West team, the Tigers hit a bit of a dry spell against their icy rivals from the east, losing six straight intra-league contests, and 11 of 12 total (regular season and tournament) games.
So, it was fitting that Taos was able to post a victory against the Dons, needing only one lead change early in the first period to win in lopsided fashion, 68-38. It was also a satisfying triumph as the Tigers clinched the top spot in the district and earned the “worst-to-first” moniker for their leap from the bottom of the rankings last year to the top this year.
This comes as the two teams conclude their series as District 2-4A foes. Next year the Dons will drop down to class 3A, and the Tigers will join a new class 4A league.
It was also fitting that the Tigers secured that top spot in front of their home crowd. The atmosphere inside Otero Gymnasium was electric as fans arrived to witness the climactic showdown between bitter rivals one final time. On this night, departing seniors from the basketball and cheer teams were recognized for their contributions, parents received a heartfelt pat on the back and athletic staff members were publicly thanked for their unwavering support.
“The fan support has been tremendous,” said Coach Nando Chavez. “Our kids really feed off that energy, and I can’t thank the community enough.”
The win over West was only one of the key wins the Tigers have garnered in the last couple of weeks. In the game leading up to the decisive matchup, the St, Michael’s Horsemen visited Otero Gymnasium Feb. 7, and looked poised to steal a road victory. Nursing a lead they kept for 31 minutes and 57 seconds, they couldn’t finish the job. Meanwhile, a super moon rose up over the horizon and a tidal wave ensued, metaphorically speaking. It would turn out to be a blood moon for St. Mike’s.
Down by three points in regulation, the Tigers came out of a timeout with a play aimed at getting off a desperation 3-point shot. Off the inbound pass, Quinn Moon barely had enough time to receive the pass, square up and deliver his long-range shot attempt from beyond the left elbow of the 3-point arc. The subsequent splash at the buzzer sent the crowd into a lunatic frenzy as the game went into overtime.
Ultimately, Taos would win the key district tilt in double overtime, 60-55. It was the second double-overtime game between Taos and St. Michael’s this season, and the second time a 3-point shot by Moon was the deciding factor.
The boys played their final regular season game on the road against the Las Vegas Robertson Cardinals Feb. 13.
The game was inconsequential for the Tigers, who had already wrapped up the first place spot with their previous wins, but was an important match for Robertson, who was vying for second place in the district rankings.
The final result was a 90-70 victory for the Tigers. With the win, the Tigers own each season series against all district opponents this year. Taos has defeated St. Michael’s and Pojoaque Valley twice in their home-and-home outings thus far. The Tigers are 2-1 against both West Las Vegas and Robertson, having met the two Vegas teams during tournaments earlier in the season. A nod to first-year coach, Nando Chavez and his staff.
Taos finishes the regular season at 16-10 overall and 7-1 in district play. As the number one ranked team, the Tigers will host the district championship tournament game Feb. 24.