Fort Lewis College senior Alex Herrera set a new college record on his old home turf.
It was a pretty sweet night for the Ignacio High School basketball alumnus.
On Nov. 14, Herrera blocked a shot by J.J. Bolton of St. Mary's University 64 seconds before halftime in a tournament at SunUte Community Center. Herrera officially bumped Skyhawk great Rich Hillyer to #2 in FLC's career rejections category. More importantly for him, he helped energize FLC to a season-opening 70-57 victory.
"If it happened, it happened!" he said with a laugh, after his 5-block, 23-point, 10-rebound-and 6-assist-night went into NCAA Division II history. "It did happen, so it's a great feeling."
"Rich Hillyer.all the credit," he continued. "He's in the Hall of Fame up at Fort Lewis.a great player himself!"
Herrera's mom was proud, too.
"That was a pretty awesome feeling!" mother Kathy Herrera said of the much-anticipated moment. "So I immediately texted Laura and Rich Hillyer to let him know that (Alex) had broken it, and sent him a picture of it-because Rich has been a big fan of Alex's and really supported him." Hillyer "couldn't be here.but he was really excited that Alex broke his record. And our families are very close, so it's nice that it's something that could be kept locally. I'm a very proud mom tonight." The Hillyers were attending their daughter's volleyball game in Denver.
"Defensively we did pretty well.that's the fifth-ranked team in our region, so it's good to get an early-season win," said junior and fellow IHS product Ryan Brooks. "We've just got to come back tomorrow against another good team."
FLC did just that on Day 2 of the 2014 Rocky Mountain Athletic-versus-Heartland Conference Challenge. They beat University of Texas-Permian Basin-an aggressive squad which had out-everythinged Western New Mexico University 101-57 in the tournament's initial game on Friday.
In the way he'd started the scoring versus St. Mary's, Herrera thundered home a Lucas Archuleta pass for a 46-32 lead on UTPB 1:08 before intermission, when the Skyhawks were still ahead 48-37.
UTPB came back in the second half, but FLC won the down-to-the-wire game, 101-97.
"He brought his game home.he was proud to be home again," Kathy Herrera said. "It was a little bittersweet but we're very proud of what he has done and the community that comes and supports it."
St. Mary's started Day 2's play coasting to a 77-52 win against Western New Mexico before the FLC-UTPB game.
POSTSCRIPT: Herrera was named RMAC Defensive Player-of-the-Week, the first award of the 2014-15 season in the conference.
Herrera's blocks total increased to 223 after seven swats in a 105-92 defeat Tuesday night of Northern New Mexico inside FLC's Whalen Gymnasium. He also went off for 29 points and 12 rebounds, while Brooks totaled two and two in just four minutes. FLC improved to 3-0 overall.