Class 4A boys: Zanen Zeller and top-seeded Los Lunas advance to semifinals with rout of Taos

Photo: Zanen Zeller is of Los Lunas is a threat to post a triple-double in every game. He and the Tigers are in the semifinals of the Class 4A state basketball tournament. (Chris Jackson photo)

By Chris Jackson
For Enchantment Sports

Los Lunas senior guard Zanen Zeller did not have the type of scoreline that he usually puts up on Wednesday afternoon.
He only scored eight points on 3-of-11 shooting, but it was enough as the top-seeded Tigers prevailed 66-46 over No. 9 Taos Tigers in a Class 4A quarterfinal at Dreamstyle Arena.
“I just know I have to trust in my teammates,” Zeller said. “It’s the team that wins games, not just one person.”
What he did not put up in points, Zeller did just about everything else right. He finished with 10 rebounds and seven assists while also playing lockdown defense on one of Taos’ key players. Noah Armijo was held to just 10 rebounds and zero points, after he had come into the game averaging around 18 points per game over his last few outings.
“I’m going to give credit to this guy to my right,” Los Lunas coach Travis Julian said of Zeller. “He drew that assignment. I thought he did a really good job tonight on (Armijo). He did a nice job blocking him out. Z is a strong kid. I know that kid is a big, strong kid, too, so I think that helped neutralize him.”
Zeller said it was not an easy task. That focus, combined with his shooting woes, left him a bit frustrated.
Zanon Zeller (12) and Los Lunas huddle during their rout of Taos on Wednesday. While Zeller had a tough day scoring, he is one of the state’s top floor leaders and hopes to display that again tonight vs. Del Norte. (Chris Jackson photo)

“It was definitely a challenge, especially in the first half,” Zeller said. “It kind of got in my head a little bit. The team definitely helped me out in the second half. We were definitely good to go from there.”

The mental side of the game was where the battle was fought, Julian said, and his squad came out on top there and on the scoreboard.

“I just think that the kids’ toughness showed through,” Julian said. “We talked a lot about being a tougher team. This team has a theme of extending leads in the second half. We do a lot of conditioning and take a lot of pride in staying in shape. I think that’s a big part of it; these guys don’t wear down and they tend to get stronger as the game goes on.”

That mental and physical toughness will be put to the test again as Los Lunas faces No. 12 Del Norte in a semifinal game today (March 14) at 6:30 p.m. LLHS was upset in the semifinals by rival Belen last season, something none of them want to see happen again.

“I think we’re definitely more confident, considering what happened last year, and how much we’ve grown since last year, we’re definitely more confident,” Zeller said.

The main goal for Los Lunas has not changed throughout this season.“We’re trying to do something that hasn’t been done in Los Lunas history, which is win a state championship,” Julian said.


Chris Jackson is a longtime Albuquerque journalist. For tips or comments, please email Chris at EnchantmentSportsNM@gmail.com.

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