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Hope Christian dispatches Artesia to advance in 4A boys bracket

Mar. 13—Somewhere between the battle to determine the top seed in the boys Class 4A draw, and Albuquerque Academy's attempt to repeat as state champion, you'll find the Hope Christian Huskies.

And right on cue as Week 2 of the state tournament arrives at the Pit, Hope Christian is chugging along nicely.

The third-seeded Huskies' path to the 4A semifinals was relatively smooth, as they beat No. 6 Artesia 67-61 in the quarterfinals Wednesday afternoon in a game that was not as close as the final margin indicated.

Hope (20-9) will play No. 2 Valley or No. 7 Lovington in Thursday's 3 p.m. semifinals.

"I think we attacked very well," senior forward Nathan Saavedra said. He scored 18 points in the victory for the Huskies. "Usually, we shoot 3s, but we were more aggressive inside and that helped us."

While Highland and Valley battled for the top line in 4A, and while Academy was in the hunt to repeat until the Chargers were knocked out earlier on Wednesday by St. Pius, it would be easy to forget that Hope Christian played for the state championship a year ago and have enjoyed a terrific regular season.

And they're a win away from getting back to the final.

The final score was not indicative of how much Hope Christian was in control in the second half. The Bulldogs (18-9) hit a few late 3s after the game was already decided.

Noah Perry had 21 points and nine assists for the Huskies and overcame a rather nasty bump to the head that caused him to leave the game temporarily.

"Nate played well and Noah had a heck of a game," Hope coach Jim Murphy said.

As a team, the Huskies were solid across the board. They shot 50% from the floor (23-46), had assists on 18 of 23 baskets, and turned the ball over only eight times.

Some long-range jumpers by Artesia early, Perry said, "kind of caught us off guard," but the Huskies eventually adapted as they steadily increased their lead.

Jarren Wadkins scored 20 points for Artesia and also led the Bulldogs with seven rebounds.

HOPE CHRISTIAN 67, ARTESIA 61

ARTESIA (18-9): Nye Estrada 5, Diego Wesson 10, Jarren Wadkins 20, Clay Kincaid 7, Charlie Campbell 17, Enrique Armendariz 2. Totals 21-49 11-17 61.

HOPE CHRISTIAN (20-9): Xavier Otero 5, Nathan Saavedra 18, Noah Perry 21, Ian Koenigsberg 8, Brayden Giron 11, Nico Gutierrez 4. Totals 23-46 17-22 67.

Artesia 10 11 9 31 — 61

Hope 12 16 19 20 — 67

3-point goals: A 8-26 (Wadkins 3, Wesson 2, Campbell 2, Estrada); HC 4-9 (Koenigsberg 2, Giron, Otero). Rebounds: A 30 (Wadkins 7); HC 26 (Otero, Saavedra, Perry 5). Assists: A 15 (Campbell 6); HC 18 (Perry 9). Total fouls: A 22; HC 18. Fouled out: A, Wesson, Wadkins.