By Dave Wagner
Senior Harvey Park scored 18 points and Melrose claimed the boys’ third-place trophy in the EPAC basketball tournament Saturday with a 51-32 win over Fort Sumner at Eastern New Mexico University’s Greyhound Arena.
Park had three 3-pointers, including two in the first quarter when the Buffaloes (6-5) opened a 17-8 lead. Fort Sumner struggled all game, converting just 10 field goals and committing 27 turnovers.
Junior guard Ross Cortese was the only other player in double figures for either team, scoring 12 points to lead the Foxes (5-8).
Melrose coach Casey Pack said he thought his team’s quickness and defensive pressure bothered Fort Sumner. The Buffs were coming off a 51-31 semifinal loss on Friday night to Texico.
“Maybe we should’ve played that way last night,” Pack said, “but I figured Texico’s big guys would wear you down.”
The Foxes led 1-0 early, but Melrose countered with an 8-0 run and was never seriously threatened after that. The Buffs’ lead was in double figures from the final two minutes of the first half.
“We’re just not playing the game well right now,” Fort Sumner coach Dexter McDaniel said. “Hopefully, we’ll get everybody on the same page pretty soon, but we’re young.”
Both teams were missing players. Melrose junior Brock Graham and Fort Sumner sophomore Derek Dimitroff were in Denver judging a livestock competition while the Foxes were also without junior guard Ryan Fikany, who sustained a rib injury in Friday’s semifinal loss to Floyd.