ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Manzano Scores 84 In District 2-5A Opener
The elements have conspired to tuck the entirety of the District 2-5A boys season into a frantic, six-games-in-11-days window.
And already it’s clear the normal rules do not apply. Consider this: The loser of Friday night’s La Cueva-Eldorado game will occupy 2-5A’s basement. And those are the city’s two highest-ranked 5A schools.
Suddenly, it is surging Manzano that seems to have the strongest grip on things. The eighth-ranked Monarchs (12-7) used their scoring balance to topple No. 2 Eldorado on Wednesday night, 84-81, in a 2-5A opener at Manzano.
It was a season-high in points for the Monarchs.
“I kept feeling that we would peak late with this team,” Manzano coach Travis Julian said. “We had a young backcourt. Q (guard Quavshaun Branch) came back to us late, and I felt our best basketball would be played at the end of the year.”
The Monarchs’ last two games should put everyone on alert — from No. 1 Oñate on down — as they become an ever-increasing mover-and-shaker in 5A. They spanked fifth-ranked Cleveland most recently, and were impressive again against the Eagles.
To that end, the final score is incredibly misleading. Manzano led by 18 (56-38) starting the fourth quarter, and Eldorado (14-5) never had a chance to win.
There were two statistical anomalies in the fourth quarter by Eldorado that closed the gap to respectable proportions. First was a 43-point outburst. Second, a 23-point explosion by guard Cameron Glasrud, who made all six of his 3-pointers in the final eight minutes, the last with 1 second to go.
Until then, the majority of the offense came from post Chris Strong or guard Cullen Neal. Manzano, on the other hand, had four players going, led by junior Austin Roark, who had 24 points.
“Really, at the beginning of the season, it was hard getting everyone involved,” said the 6-foot-7 Roark. “But we really worked on that.”
Erik Bouma added 17 points, Branch 14 and 6-11 post Mike Holyfield 13 for the Monarchs. Holyfield had the game’s loudest two points, an almost-angry two-handed slam dunk near the end of the third quarter. He was also fouled.
Neal had 28 to pace Eldorado. Strong added 16.
At Sandia on Wednesday, the Matadors upset No. 4 La Cueva 64-58. Sandia is home to Manzano on Friday night.
“That really shows how powerful a district we have,” Roark said. “Four teams, on any night, can be great.”
The Bears and Eldorado have got some catching up to do.
“We’re gonna keep fighting. That’s the type of team we have,” EHS coach Roy Sanchez said.