The NMMI Bronco basketball team opened up WJCAC play Wednesday evening in Roswell, but was not able to complete the second half comeback and fell to the Clarendon Bulldogs 83-80.
Despite having possession and being down by three with less than thirty seconds remaining in the game, the Broncos did not get a shot off thanks to a steal by Clarendon’s Ellis Jefferson. Jefferson ended the game with nine points and two steals, one of which gave Clarendon the win. Head coach Ralph Davis said, “In every game we’ve lost, we’ve had a reasonable multiple-possession lead, which we’ve been able to maintain into the second half. That puts you in position to win, but we’ve got to find a way to get over the hump and close games out.”
NMMI had an eight point lead halfway through the first half, but Clarendon slowly chipped away and tied the game for the fifth time with a little less than eight minutes remaining in the half. The score was knotted up four more times throughout the half and the Broncos took a slim 44-42 lead into halftime.
NMMI had an early edge against the Bulldogs to start the second half and added another eight point lead, but a three pointer by Reece Brooks gave Clarendon the momentum to tie the game up for the 10th time at 52-52 with 16:50 remaining in the second half.
From there the Bulldogs slowly build an eight point lead of their own with 4:07 left in regulation. Atem Bior scored a very athletic layup to get the lead back to six and immediately after the layup, Trevelin Queen added a field goal to make the score 81-77. NMMI scored seven unanswered point to pull within one of Clarendon, but that was the closest NMMI would come.
“We have to string together more stops early, instead of late out of desperation,” said Davis. “We have to play much smarter on offense and more efficiently. We also haven’t been hitting the shots we are capable of, even on our home court. That’s important, no matter who you play, because you’ve got win those home games.”
Offensively, NMMI had four players in double figures led by Trevelin Queen, who scored 22 points and added 11 rebounds. Rosel Hurley finished with 14 points and Cooper Clark 12 of his own.
“We played hard enough, we just didn’t play smart enough. There’s no question we’re talented enough to win, we just need to take that final step and learn to play with a lead”, said Davis.
With the loss, NMMI falls to 7-5 overall and 0-1 in WJCAC play. Next up for the Broncos will be road game in Hobbs, NM on Saturday, to take on the NMJC Thunderbirds (8-2). Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m.