Well, the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year for New Mexico isn’t even among the first five on my All-Metro team this season. That’s how deep.
The Journal today presents its choices for the top boys and girls basketball players from the just-completed season. It is, as always, an ultra-exclusive list, with only 20 total players – 10 for each gender.
The first-teamers on my list this season include four guards and Eldorado post Zach Gentry.
True, Joe Anaya’s scoring average is less than that of teammate Adonis Saltes (the aforementioned Gatorade honoree), but Anaya was the catalyst on Valley’s state championship team. He was undervalued as a rebounder and distributor, and put away more than a few teams from the free-throw line. Anaya exuded calm and poise under pressure.
He is joined by a pair of junior guards from Rio Rancho, Ryan Jones of Cleveland and Brady Patterson of Rio Rancho.
Was there a smoother player in the metro area than Jones? This kid defined silky, whether he was stroking 3-pointers or creating off the dribble.
Patterson had no supporting cast to speak of, and yet still managed to put up gaudy offensive numbers without it seeming overly forced. Like Jones, Patterson can shoot or drive equally well. A very skilled player.
Gentry, Eldorado’s 6-7 post, was a monster in the paint for the Eagles. I find it incredibly ironic that this future Division I quarterback didn’t make my All-Metro first team in football (that went to Valley’s Bo Coleman), but was an obvious choice for the first team in basketball.
He was a 20/10 guy throughout the season for Eldorado, and not just because he’s 6-7. He’s a determined athlete, and more skilled on the hardwood than he’s given credit for. His footwork is solid, and he knows how to finish.
The fifth member of my first team is Highland’s Bryan Medina, which is likely to draw more ire, I think, than maybe anybody else on my first team. (I can hear the groans from Atrisco Heritage already.)
I shudder to think where the Hornets would have been without Medina, who frankly just killed it every time I watched Highland play. The 6-1 Medina, a combination of guard and small forward, was asked to carry an enormous load for the Hornets; in his final game, a loss to Valley, he played through a broken jaw that almost no one knew about.
Atrisco Heritage’s backcourt, Corbin Waquie and Joe Brooks, head up our second team. Leaving Waquie off the first team was not an easy decision. In the end, I made the call for both Medina and Patterson over Waquie. But how can you not love the 5-7 Waquie? He’s a dynamite player, as anyone who watched him in the state semifinals against Sandia can attest.
Saltes is here on the second team; he was certainly one of the most enjoyable players to watch and had a superb second half in the state final against Atrisco.
The second team is completed with Sandia guard Adam Cumber and Volcano Vista guard Seth Warfield, both highly instrumental in their teams’ success. Both are tall, athletic, versatile kids who could defend and score.
Now, did I get it right this year? Well, I guess it depends on the point of view. I stand by my choices, though not everyone will agree. There were some really talented kids who were just outside the top 10 who aren’t here.
However, one coach I won’t identify – let’s just call him Joe C. – told me that my second team would beat my first team seven times out of 10. Which, I suppose, was his polite way of calling me an idiot.
I truly labored to find 10 worthy candidates this season. There was not great depth.
The first team is led by Volcano Vista senior guard Hannah Fenske, who was spectacular in taking the Hawks to a state title last weekend. She is perhaps the most talented player among our first five, but also the most valuable, and, from my chair, the toughest. No surprise that she’s going to the Naval Academy.
La Cueva junior guard Alexa Romano, a future Division I talent, had a terrific season for the Bears, and she might be more fun to watch than any player when she starts to heat up from beyond the arc.
Los Lunas’ University of Nevada-bound senior, Teige Zeller, had a tough 4A title game against Santa Fe, but Zeller was probably that division’s best player and someone who forces defenses to double- and triple-team her.
The final two members of the first team might also have been the metro area’s two most undervalued guards – St. Pius junior Natalie Zamora and Cibola senior Kim Chapman.
Zamora is the more explosive scorer of the two; the quiet Chapman was invaluable to the Cougars, doing a little bit of everything in their three-loss season.
The second team features Rio Grande freshman forward Daniela Ortega, La Cueva junior post Alyssa Yocky, Volcano Vista sophomore guard Deezha Battle, Albuquerque High junior guard Ashley Perez and Cibola senior point guard Dominique Carpenter.