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Warriors roll on; down Panthers

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Gateway's Riley Arnold goes up strong as Valdemar Diaz attempts the block. (Paul Lessard Photo)

The Gateway Christian Warrior boys basketball team continued to roll as they downed a depleted Lake Arthur team 62-20 Friday night inside the Redrock Warrior Center to move to 14-4 on the season. The Warriors’ normal starters didn’t see the floor as the reserves played the entire four quarters in a game featuring future district opponents.

The Panthers suited out five players, which included three freshmen and an 8th grader, and played their hearts out, but ultimately tired and could muster only two second half buckets in falling to 1-11 on the year.

“They (the reserves) are working hard at getting better,” stated Dan Smith. “They are improving as we work on our defense. All of them contributed tonight with their defensive prowess.”

The opening quarter was even at first as both teams seemed to relish the Warrior starting five sitting. Riley Arnold – one of the heroes of Thursday’s game – promptly scored all of the Warrior buckets in the opening quarter as they led 14-6.

The second quarter was similar to the first as the Warriors slowly started to put some distance between them and the Panthers. Freshman Armando Rey scored 8 of the Panthers’ 10 points, but it was not near enough as the Warriors got contributions from numerous players – especially Arnold who tacked on another seven to give him 19 at half. The Warriors’ 27-16 halftime lead would quickly grow.

The Warriors dominated the third quarter outscoring the visitors 20-0. Joel Perry hit a deuce and a trey to start the run and the hosts never looked back. Arnold got another 8 points to give him a game high 27 before sitting out the final frame.

Coach Smith was pleased with his team’s offense getting into a rhythm. “We added an offensive set this evening for them to try out of a timeout and they executed it pretty well so I was proud of how they performed when we told them to go high-low or to implement something and they were able to do that.”

The Warriors continued their torrid run into the fourth as Perry hit for three more buckets – two from long range – as the lead grew to 59-16. The Panthers finally stopped the run as Rey and fellow freshman Valdemar Diaz hit late hoops to make it 62-20 at the final horn.

Coach Smith is looking forward to his team continuing their success as they start to prep for district and the playoffs. “We are continually preparing for district and, hopefully, more as the season goes on with this team. They are doing well. Lake Arthur was depleted tonight but I thought they fought valiantly with what they had.”

The Warriors have two more non-district games next week – both on the road. Gateway plays at Hondo on Tuesday and at Fort Sumner on Friday. No doubt the starters will see the floor in those games – especially against the 3rd-ranked Foxes on Friday.

Girls: Gateway 65, Lake Arthur 8

The Gateway Lady Warriors won their contest against the Panthers in a one-sided affair 65-8. The Warriors got off to a 25-2 first quarter lead and had little trouble against less-experienced Panther squad.

In the opening quarter, the Warrior full-court press made all the difference as they got numerous steals and transition buckets in getting scoring from four different players. The Panthers lone bright spot was a late hoop from 8th-grader Cadance Romero, who also recorded two blocks defensively.

The second quarter saw five different Warriors score – two hoops from Kayli Reeves – as the lead grew to 36-4 at the break. The lone hoop for the Panthers was by Dalilah Villa, the lone senior for Lake Arthur.

Emily Turner and Taylor Higgins each scored four in the third quarter as the lead went to 49-6 and senior Megyn Balok scored seven in the final frame as the Warriors wrapped up the 65-8 victory.

The Warriors were led offensively by Hannah Martin with 16, Balok with 14, and Turner with 13. Kelsie Smith scored four for the Panthers.