By Marty Mayfield
KRTN Multi-Media –
It was a long time coming. 57 years in the making, noted Coach Eloy Brazil in the post- game interview, as the Maxwell Bears came from behind to take the lead and hold off an early fourth quarter rally by Springer to capture the Boys NM State Class A Championship trophy, with a 63 to 53 win. The first-ever state trophy for the Maxwell Bears, came in an early Saturday morning showdown, March 11th at the Pit in Albuquerque.
These two teams had met five times already this season with Maxwell coming out on top in the most important one that also included a district tie breaker and a 5A district championship game. During the selection process for the state tourney Isaiah Garcia noted only one coach gave Springer the credit they deserve and quipped about it saying it could be a blue devil holding the trophy at the end of the year.
Both teams knew it would be a tough game and they didn’t disappoint as both Coach Brazil and Coach Johnny Chavez mentioned later that they came into the game knowing how the other team played and what to expect. Chavez told KRTN that in the third quarter they had several shots that simply rolled around and out which cost Springer dearly. Maxwell’s Aaron Salazar hit six of six from the free throw line that Brazil said kept them in the game.
Hundreds of Northern New Mexico fans poured into the Pit and saw Springer start the scoring off early with a 3-pointer by Estevan Romero and then turned up the heat for the rest of the first quarter. As Andrew Archuleta of Maxwell later noted, the nerves were there for the Bears as this was the first time for them to play in the PIT. But, as Springer extended their lead, the nerves began to settle for Maxwell and shots started falling. By late in the second quarter Maxwell had come back from a 10 point deficit to tie the game at 23 and again at 27. As the halftime buzzer blew in Wise Pies Arena, Springer held a two point lead 33-31.
As the third period got underway, those errant roll-around-the-rim balls by Springer left Maxwell with a growing lead and Springer being outscored 18-6 in the pivotal quarter. Maxwell took a 12 point lead at one point, but Springer is never out of a game as they proved in the quarter-finals against Hondo Valley. In the Hondo Valley game, Springer came back from an 11 point deficit with under three minutes left to tie at the end of regulation and win in OT. They then beat #1 seed Quemado in the semis to make it to their second consecutive NM State Championship. So it was no surprise when Springer mounted a comeback in Saturday’s Championship and brought the score to within one.
Soon the momentum once again fell to Maxwell as they managed to add 10 points at the free throw line in the fourth and pull away. The crowd cheers grew as they knew Maxwell had wrapped this one up and secured a Class A title 63-53.
This was Coach Brazil’s fifth year at Maxwell and he is one of the few who have coached three different schools to championships. Ironically, the previous title before today’s was at Springer where he won the 2004 and 2002 Championships. He also hoisted the Championship banner while coaching Cimarron in 1979.
Springer 18 15 6 14 53
Maxwell 16 15 18 14 63