NMMI Sports Press
The first home game of the season was a tough one for the New Mexico Military Institute Colt varsity basketball team, playing up against Class 4A Ruidoso but falling, 66-44.
It was the Warriors’ inside play that paved the way to victory, with Ruidoso senior Josh Romero leading the way by putting up 27 points and pulling down 21 rebounds.
“Romero is very, very tough and we didn’t really have an answer for him tonight,” said first-year head Colt coach Connor Williamson. “But we’re definitely going to learn from this and come back stronger. I’m proud of the guys. We played hard to the end.”
NMMI had a very early led, scoring the first three points of the game. Sophomore wing Daniel Xibille sunk the back-end of a pair from the foul line, then after two consecutive missed inside shots by Ruidoso’s Romero, came back with a lay-up and easy basket on an assist from junior post Luis Silva.
But that was the last time the Colts would lead, as the Warriors went on an 11-4 run to close out the first period, 11-7.
“I think we shared the ball pretty well and our guards were attacking,” said coach Williamson, who played both high school and junior college basketball for the Institute. “But early in the game, we didn’t get many foul calls and were missing shots. Ruidoso also put on a type of press that we really weren’t ready for, which helped them go on an eight-point flurry. Those things hurt us.”
NMMI again started the scoring in the second, with senior point guard Hector Reyna slashing in for a quick two, but Ruidoso continued to pound the paint, building up an eleven-point margin at halftime, 29-18.
In the third, Ruidoso extended that lead to 19, sharing the ball with six different Warrior players, then won the fourth in a 20-17 shootout.
“All of our guards have a lot of talent – fast guys,” said the coach about their play, one of the team’s main strengths this year. “We just need to learn to make better decisions and keep getting better.”
As for the inside game, Williamson said it’s something they’ll continue to work on. “We have guys on the inside that just don’t have a lot of experience down there. We’re going to keep working with them, toughen them up. If we can clean those things up, we’ll definitely be a tough team to handle.”
Reyna and Xibille were the top scorers for the Colts with 16 and 11 points, respectively. Senior shooting guard Jesus Luy dropped in seven, soph guard Ricardo Mata contributed five, senior forward Charles Lewis had three, and Silva had two points along with the top mark in rebounds at six.
NMMI’s next game won’t come until after the Christmas break. They’ll take on the Loving Falcons at home on Jan. 15, a team they defeated on the road back on Dec. 4, 69-35, for their first win of the season.
After that, it’s five more ‘tune-up’ games prior to district play in the month of January: four road games and a final contest at home.
“We have quite a few more games before district starts, so definitely some winnable games coming up that will help us get ready for district,” said Williamson.
And with the Colts’ moving back down to Class 3A this year, in District 4 with Dexter, Tucumcari, and Tularosa, questions abound about who the district front-runner is.
“As far as district play, it’s just so early that it’s hard to tell right now. I know that Tucumcari beat Dexter, but I haven’t seen film on any of the teams yet.”
Williamson and his Colt squad won’t start sorting out the district standings until their first game in February, on the fifth, at Tucumcari.