Socorro coach J.J. Griego is smiling after the Warriors posted a three-game winning streak and are 2-0 in district play.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

Socorro overcame a third-quarter lull to extend its winning streak to three games with a 61-49 win against Cobre that also lifted the Warriors to a 2-0 start in District 3-3A basketball on Feb. 2

“It feels good, but it’s kind of what we expected after such a tough schedule,” Socorro coach J.J. Griego said.

Socorro has played a brutal regular season schedule with 4A and 5A teams offering difficult sparring matches for the Warriors, who emerged with a 5-15 record.

None of that matters once district play starts, and the Warriors are on a three-game winning streak after beating Ruidoso 52-43 on the road, and opening league play with a 65-24 win against Hatch Valley.

“The reason we played the kind of schedule we did was to get ready for district,” Griego said. “Obviously, it appears we are playing like we are ready. We still have some roles in the game that we need to correct, but hopefully, we can get it taken care of before Hatch (Valley) comes to town.”

The Warriors have been like early harvest New Mexico green chile this season – you might get the hot version or mild one without any rhyme or reason as to why. Socorro can rip off a 25-point quarter and follow it up with seven points over eight minutes and vice versa. The most significant answer as to why is turning over the basketball.

When it came to mixing it up against Cobre, the Warriors took control with a 19-11 opening frame as Marcus Armijo drained a pair of three-pointers, and Alex Amaro added another. Warren Chewiwi, Cobe Hardin, Andrew Handrich and William Griego also added to Socorro’s numbers.

It was more of the same in the second quarter as Damian Greenwood worked the paint, and Chewiwi, Hardin and Armijo rained in bombs from the outside during a 17-12 stretch that put Socorro on top 36-23 at the half.

Socorro’s Achille’s heel all season has been inconsistency generally highlighted by turning over the basketball. That problem looked like it was going to spring back up during the start of the third quarter.

Griego called a 30-second timeout to alert his team to the problems they were having, and when that didn’t work, he called a full 60-second stoppage.

“To be honest, we just tend to let teams back in it because, once we get a lead, we just kind of start to get lazy with our passes,” Griego said. “We just needed to correct that. You can’t do that — when you get them down — you have got to keep them down.”

Griego wants a smooth transition when he digs into his bench, whether because of foul trouble or giving someone a rest. Hardin and Handrich provided both offensive firepower and consistency in the passing department. Together, the duo combined for 15 bench points.

“Our bench has been playing very well. Alex (Amaro) had come off the bench earlier in the year, and now he is starting for us and playing really well. Andrew (Handrich) came in today and got us some rebounds. As small as we are — we are actually hanging with people on the rebounds.”

The Warriors came out on top of the third quarter 16-13, which reduced Cobre to fouling to gain possession of the ball. Chewiwi had another big game at the free-throw line hitting 5-of-6 down the stretch.


Warren Chewiwi 12, Cobe Hardin 10, Alex Amaro 8, Andrew Handrich 5, William Griego 4, Marcus Armijo 15, Damian Greenwood 6.