Community rallies around Belen basketball team after coach’s arrest

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BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – Cheering on the high school basketball team is usually a big event for one New Mexico community. But Tuesday night, supporting the players was even more important following the arrest of their coach.

People packed the gym at Belen High School Tuesday night for the team’s last home game of the regular season. There were lots of regulars but also some first timers who wanted to show their support for the boys during a tough week.

The district says it suspended Belen High School Basketball Coach Patrick Mondragon without pay after Los Lunas Police arrested the 34-year-old two days ago for molesting a 17-year-old family member.

At Tuesday night’s basketball game, an assistant coach stepped in to lead the team. Signs of support for the boys lined the stands, and dozens of students, parents and community showed up to support the players.

“It shows compassion, how like people care and they think it’s wrong that that happened,” said Luke Chavez, fan.

“It’s important for us to show up to support our team. They’ve been through so much especially after everything that happened,” said Nicolas Proffitt, Belen High School senior.

The team earned a dominant victory, winning against Saint Pius 52-35.

Fans are already looking ahead to what’s next, ready to cheer their team on all the way.

“We came out with the W. Bring it home to Belen, so hopefully we can keep up the momentum and take it to state now.”

Before they get that far, the team still has a regular season game scheduled for Friday night at Grants High School.

The team was in its fifth year with Mondragon as its coach. He also taught English and had been working at the high school for about six years.

Mondragon’s arrest came after someone in the family walked in on him with a 17-year-old relative. The victim told police he had been molesting her since she was 12.

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