After committing players to the junior varsity championship, Socorro was short-handed, and Hot Springs took advantage to win the District 3-3A boys basketball tournament on Feb. 25 by a 48-46 score in overtime.
Even with just seven players available, coach J.J. Griego got the most out of his regular-season district-champion Warriors. That’s not surprising, given the Warriors’ 5-1 district mark that was built on a rugged preseason road schedule. The tournament championship was Socorro’s sixth game at home.
Griego planned out tempering the steel of his team with a load of road trips and, like a chess player, has been thinking 2-3 moves ahead. Last year as he was looking toward 2023, Griego felt his team might face road time during the postseason.
It was much like realizing that while it would have been nice to win Saturday’s title tilt, it wouldn’t change the Warrior’s state tournament move either. Making Griego’s crystal ball even shinier is the Warriors have drawn a No. 9 seed in the state tournament and will travel to No. 8 Tohatchi for a 6 p.m. game on Saturday.
Even though they were short-handed against Hot Springs, the Warriors nearly pulled off a win. The game was a see-saw battle with the Warriors taking the early lead and falling behind, only to rally once again.
Hot Springs was held to just five fourth-quarter points, and Socorro didn’t pull off a last-second shot in regulation that would have broken the 42-42 tie to win it.
Socorro was gassed as it entered the overtime period, and Hot Springs took advantage.
“I think that hurt us. I think a player showing up late and not being able to play hurt us, too,” Griego said. “We know we were probably going to lose the battle when it comes to rebounding, but we could also block out better.”
Following the game, Marcus Armijo and Warren Chewiwi were recognized by coaches as the Co-Most Valuable Players for District 3-3A, and William Griego and Damian Greenwood were also named to the All-District squad.
“We have got great kids. Marcus and Warren are interchangeable, and there was no picking one over the other. Damian has done a great job all year, He’s kept us in a lot of games, and he’s won a couple of games for us. William is always there and giving his all,” Griego said.
Warren Chewiwi 9, Alex Amaro 7, Andrew Handrich 2, William Griego 11, Marcus Armijo 9, Damian Greenwood 7.