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No Hail Mary for Eldorado this time; La Cueva girls win 2-5A

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Albuquerque High coach Doug Dorame, right, celebrates with his team after it beat Valley on Saturday for the District 5-5A tournament title. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Albuquerque High coach Doug Dorame, right, celebrates with his team after it beat Valley on Saturday for the District 5-5A tournament title. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Last Tuesday, Eldorado’s girls basketball team earned the top seed for the District 2-5A tournament on the strength of a 70-foot desperation heave against the Bears.

On Saturday night at Eldorado, Alexa Romano and La Cueva (19-8) made the Eagles endure a little heartbreak of their own, as the Bears held off the Eagles 57-53 to capture the 2-5A tournament title.

“They took something from us. We thought we had it and they stole it,” Romano said.

Despite constant defensive attention from Eldorado (20-6), Romano carried La Cueva offensively with 32 points – including 26 in the second half. Her final free throw with 1.3 seconds remaining clinched the victory.

“They were face-guarding her the whole time. They were on her wherever she moved,” La Cueva coach Robert Perea said. “But she stepped up and hit some huge 3s and had some huge drives to the basket down the stretch. ”

After falling behind by six points with less than three minutes to go, Eldorado had a chance to tie the game in the waning moments. However, Kylie Coffman’s 3-point attempt with 12 seconds remaining was blocked by Nicole Nasi.

Romano’s ensuing free throw ensured that there would be no Eldorado miracle and gave La Cueva its second win in five tries this season against the Eagles.

“We knew we probably wouldn’t win all of them, but this is a good one to win tonight,” she said.

– Tristen Critchfield

ALBUQUERQUE HIGH 66, VALLEY 52: The Bulldogs (16-10) twice in the regular season felt they had the Vikings (18-7) on the ropes before losing close games by a combined three points.

There was no such suspense in their third meeting.

AHS’ fine guards, led by Ashley Perez, Jada Douglas and Danae Ruiz – plus junior forward Janaya Lopez – were simply too much for the Vikings as the Bulldogs not only won the District 5-5A tournament championship but clinched their first postseason berth since 1994.

AHS was certain to get an at-large bid anyway, but this proved sweeter.

It was, AHS coach Doug Dorame said, the school’s first district tournament crown since 1986.

“We lost two close games to them that we felt we had under control,” Dorame said, “and we wanted to get away from them tonight.”

Get away, as in separate, as in keep the Vikings from having a chance to pull out another close game.

Lopez, who finished with 11 points, hit two early 3-pointers that set the tone for the night for AHS.

Those bombs put the Bulldogs in front 13-5, and Valley never got closer than four points the rest of the game.

An 8-0 AHS run to begin the fourth quarter put it safely in front 49-32.

Ruiz had 19 points, Douglas 17 and Perez a quiet nine for the Bulldogs.

Brianna Roybal led Valley with 18 points, half coming in the final eight minutes.

– James Yodice

CIBOLA 47, VOLCANO VISTA 43: At Cibola, the Cougars (23-2) won their 14th consecutive game and captured the District 1-5A tournament crown.

The Cougars swept the Hawks in district action, winning all three. Cibola was 4-0 this season against Volcano Vista.

Senior guard Kim Chapman and freshman post Corbyn Cunningham each scored 12 points for Cibola in its win.

Hannah Fenske led the Hawks (20-6) with 14 points. Raven Herrera added 13 points.

OTHER DISTRICTS: Los Lunas (District 6-4A, over Gallup), St. Pius (5-4A, over Del Norte) and Hope Christian (5-3A, over St. Michael’s) all won district tournament titles Friday night.

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