EPAC: Buffs ride defense to fifth-place finish

Grady’s Kat Grau tries to steal the ball from Logan’s Tiffany Hawkins during Thursday’s fifth-place game of the EPAC tournament in San Jon. (Staff photo: Andrew Chavez)

CNJ staff

SAN JON — Creating tempo with pressure defense, Melrose overcame an early seven-point deficit and beat San Jon 63-55 Thursday in the fifth-place game of the EPAC boys tournament.

Carlos Ruiz scored 26 points and Cedar Rush added 15 for the Buffaloes, who rode a 26-point second quarter to a double-digit halftime lead.

Tyler Tatum also reached double figures for the Buffs (7-4) with 12 points.

“We really started getting into the passing lanes,” Melrose coach Casey Pack said. “Once we started to do that, we got into our transition game and got a lot of easy layups.”

In other EPAC action Thursday:
Grady 60, House 43
Colt Grau led a balanced attack with 22 points as the Bronchos (5-7) jumped out to a 23-point halftime lead in a losers bracket semifinal contest.

Domingo Diaz added 13 points for Grady and Brian Blackburn finished with 12.

Elida 65, Floyd 64
The Elida Tigers overcame a terrible start to squeak out a win.

Elida’s Wesley Gilmore led all scorers with 24 on the night. Tom Sullivan contributed 11 in the winning effort.

For Floyd Kyle Kropf led the evening with 16 points and Jesus Davalos and Brad Lee each had 10.

“Elida just didn’t shoot very well in the first half,” Floyd coach Rafael Roybal said. “The second half was a pretty good ball game. They just caused us to make a lot of mistakes and took advantage of them.”

“We just don’t quite understand the little things we need to do,” Roybal said.

With the lead still elusive, Elida began to press in the second half and turn up the defensive pressure. It still took until the fourth quarter to turn the lead around and things stayed tight at the end.

“After our first quarter, we got after it,” said Elida coach Darrell Chenault. “We played good. We had to step up our intensity, we were pretty flat (coming out).

Grady 75, Logan 55

Heather Blackburn scored 20 of her game-high 28 points in the second half as Grady grabbed a big early lead and held off district rival Logan in the fifth-place game.

Aerial Verble added 16 points for Lady Bronchos (5-8) with Kat Grau chipping in 12.

Rayna Rackor led Logan (5-9) with 21 points.

Melrose 42, San Jon 27
Skyler Cockran scored 15 points as Melrose steadily pulled away from San Jon in a consolation semifinal contest.

Jamie Dickerman added nine points for the Lady Buffs (3-8).

Janae Brasher led San Jon (4-6) with 10 points.

EPAC Tournament
At San Jon
Losers bracket
Game 15:
Elida 56, Floyd 55
Game 16: Grady 70, House 43
Fifth place
Game 18:
Melrose 63, San Jon 55

Friday’s games
At ENMU, Portales
Ninth place
Game 20:
House (1-9) vs. Floyd (3-8), 12:45 p.m.
Game 23:
Texico (7-5) vs. Dora (10-3), 6 p.m.
Game 24: Logan (8-3) vs. Fort Sumner (6-2), 7:45 p.m.

Losers bracket
Game 13:
House 60, Dora 34
Game 14: Melrose 42, San Jon 27
Fifth place
Game 17:
Grady 74, Logan 55

Friday’s games
At ENMU, Portales
Ninth place
Game 19:
Dora (0-13) vs. San Jon (4-6), 11 a.m.
Game 21:
Floyd (4-4) vs. Elida (10-2), 2:30 p.m.
Game 22: Texico (9-3) vs. Fort Sumner (5-3), 4:15 p.m.