West Las Vegas senior D.J. Bustos makes his points knocking St. Michael's defense in District 2-4A semifinals
Bustos recently became the state's all-time leading career scorer and the Dons now visit Robertson for the final
By ARNIE LESHIN
With all due respect to West Las Vegas senior D.J. Bustos recently becoming the state's all-time leading scorer, it's puzzling to hear him complaint about how defensives play him.
In Thursday night's 54-51 District 2-4A semifinals win over visiting St. Michael's decided on a buzzer shot by his senior teammate Isiaha Gallegos, Bustos made it clear that he didn't appreciate the Horsemen defense, especially the box-and-one and how aggressive they were.
"The way they were playing me," said the 6-foot-3 wing, "I don't really respect that style of basketball. I don't at all. The way my dad (Dons' head coach David Bustos) teaches us how to play is just good, sound defense, how they play me, how they guard me."
Except that there's nothing illegal about a box-and-one usually designed to contain a high scorer. It fits in alongside various zones and man-to-man.
Aggressive, tight guarding, well that's decided by the officials. Too much of it should bring whistles, fouls.
Horsemen head coach Ron Geyer lauded the play of his defense that he labeled a 1-3 chase.
"I thought we played solid defense," he said, "and that's how it's kind of been for us, you know, not quite getting it done. But I like to think we are peaking at the right time."
After turning back visiting Pojoaque Valley in the opening round, third-seeded St. Michael's (14-14), had come off three successive setbacks by a grand total of six points. This time, it was yet another one that got away and will have Geyer standing by for Sunday's New Mexico Activities Association announcement of the state tournament pairings.
Meanwhile, the Dons, win or lose Saturday night at district winner and cross-town rival Las Vegas Robertson, might probably earn the fifth seed behind the Cardinals (16-7). The Horsemen should land in the top 10 along with the Elks (15-12).
West Las Vegas was meeting St. Michael's for the first time after having had to forfeit its two district games to the Horsemen (also two to Robertson), and it was nothing but a close one, typical of other St. Michael's games of late.
The Dons led 51-48 with time running down when Horsemen senior guard Thomas Pacheco brought the ball down court and found senior forward Luke Archuleta, who fired up a 3-pointer to tie the score with 11 seconds left in regulation.
But West Las Vegas decided not to call a time-out, instead getting the ball to Bustos, who quickly drove the length of the floor into a triple team that forced him to locate Gallegos completely unguarded along the sideline, and presto the 5-10 Gallegos found the net with two seconds remaining.
He had the game-high 20 points, four more than Bustos. He later said that he and his teammates were looking for Bustos to getting them the ball while the Horsemen were going to spend so much energy containing Bustos.
So much energy translates to pressure defense, nothing new in the sport, and a box-and-one has been around for ages.
But Bustos, the player, was clearly agitated though out by how he was defended. His dad said he draw a technical to start the second quarter in order to settle his son down.
For St. Michael's, 6-3 senior post Adam Tupler was dominate underneath in the first half. He scored the first six points of the game and had 10 at halftime. He finished with a team-high 17 points and Archuleta tossed in 15, with 10 coming in the game's last six minutes.
As for high-scoring, go-to-man Bustos, while he finds ways to score, defenses are drawn up to pressure him.