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Neither Valley’s Joe Coleman nor Cleveland’s Brian Smith could explain it.
The second quarter of Valley’s 77-54 boys basketball victory Friday night at Cleveland was as decisive as it was tough to figure out for the two head coaches.
In the other three quarters combined, the Vikings and Storm scored 48 points apiece. The second was a 29-6 Valley landslide.
Vikings teammates Adonis Saltes and Joe Anaya combined for 22 points in those pivotal eight minutes, while the Storm managed just one field goal — a Marcus Williams 3-pointer.
Understandably, Coleman and Smith had different perspectives on the second quarter, even if they couldn’t really explain it.
“We just shot the ball as well as we can shoot it,” Coleman said. “It doesn’t happen often, but it’s sure nice when it does.”
Coleman went on to credit crisp, effective passing and the high-energy play of point guard Robert Armijo for helping his Vikings improve to 4-1. Still, he conceded Valley looked like a different team Friday than the squad that lost to La Cueva a week earlier.
Smith’s Storm was coming off a 13-day layoff, and said his team’s poor second quarter was part of an unfortunate trend.
“Every game we’ve played, we’ve had one bad quarter,” Smith said. “Tonight, we played pretty well in the first quarter then fell apart in the second. It’s tough to overcome a stretch like that.”
The first quarter included five ties, two lead changes and seemed to promise a tight pre-holiday battle. Cleveland’s Josh Marsh gave his team a 14-13 lead late in the final minute, but Armijo’s basket gave Valley a one-point edge at quarter’s end.
That’s when Saltes began to take over. The junior scored seven straight points as Valley started the second quarter with an 11-1 run.
Saltes would net three 3-pointers in the quarter and had personally outscored the Storm 23-20 at halftime. As a group, the Vikes took a 44-20 lead to intermission.
“Valley’s just a typical Joe Coleman team,” Smith said. “They play hard, they attack and they don’t let up when they get a lead. Kudos to them.”
Cleveland regained its composure in the third quarter but was unable to put much of a dent in Valley’s lead. Coleman began pulling his starters midway through the quarter and got solid play from several reserves. Chris Martinez came off the bench to nail four 3-pointers.
“Chris has a funky looking shot,” Coleman said, “but he knocks ’em down. It’s nice to have a kid that can come in and give you scoring like that.”
Anaya finished with 14 points, including an 8-for-9 performance from the foul line.
Free throws were not a highlight for the Storm, which went 16 for 30 from the line. Marcus Williams was the lone Storm player to reach double figures with 20 points.
n Eric Gutierrez had 19 points and Jason Baca 18 for West Mesa, but the Mustangs fell to visiting La Cueva 69-59.
n Atrisco Heritage won a defensive struggle at Cibola, 48-42. Patrick Roark had 18 points for the Jags (5-2), while post Ross Buchman paced the Cougars (4-4) with 20.
n Rio Grande’s boys were beaten 50-45 by Manzano. Mike Torrez led the Ravens with 18 points and Dennis Lucero added 12 for Rio Grande.
n Rio Rancho’s girls (3-4) cruised past winless Rio Grande 52-30, as guards Ally Salata and Alicia Herrera combined for 22 points. Vanessa Hernandez had nine points to lead the Ravens (0-6).