ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — They grew up in one city, played their high school basketball in another, and they’ll split in a few weeks and go their separate ways for college.
On Thursday night, Corbin Waquie and Joe Brooks of Atrisco Heritage Academy, close friends since they were 4 years old, were high school teammates for the final time.
“We’ll definitely keep the friendship going,” said Waquie. “It’s a friendship we’ll never lose.”
The Jaguar guards, who led Atrisco to the state championship final in March, were part of the North’s losing effort to the South, 118-115, at West Mesa High School.
Brooks was going along nicely, throwing in a couple of extremely long 3-pointers in the first half. He had 17 points when he injured his ankle early in the second half and did not return. His offense was missed.
Waquie struggled in the scoring department, finishing with six points. Both he and the 6-foot Brooks averaged close to 20 points last season.
The 5-foot-8 Waquie will surely be remembered as probably the first true Atrisco basketball superstar. He helped the Jags get to the Class 4A state semifinals in 2012 and he single-handedly was the reason Atrisco qualified for the state finals this year.
“Corbin never played a minute of JV or C-Team,” said Atrisco coach Adrian Ortega, who coached the North on Thursday night.
Waquie’s most memorable day was in March, when he scored 38 points in a state semifinal win over Sandia. It was one of the great individual performances in New Mexico postseason history. He was 12-of-13 from the field, and he buried all six of his 3-pointers in a thrilling 72-68 win over Sandia.
“It’s incredible,” Brooks said of those times when Waquie heats up. “We don’t have to do anything but give him the ball.”
Waquie is headed to Northern New Mexico College in Española next season.
Brooks, who is going to Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., went over 40 points in a multiple-overtime win against Albuquerque High, and he also delivered some fantastic highlights Thursday night.
Very early, he took an alley-oop pass from Waquie and stuffed the ball through the hoop with one hand. Brooks also drilled two 3-pointers that were well beyond even NBA range.
“Traditionally,” said Ortega, “Fort Lewis gets eight or nine system guys, and then they take three or four like Joe, who are really athletic, and it just meshes. They’re both gonna be successful.”
The pair grew up together in Los Lunas, and eventually transferred into Albuquerque Public Schools.
“Coach Ortega always said that we had to lead the program by setting the standard,” Waquie said. “I think we set a high standard.”
- As for the Class 4A/5A game itself, the South overcame a 10-point deficit and led 105-93 with 5:32 left in the game after a 10-0 run.
The North then rallied. Waquie’s finger-roll basket in the lane gave the North a 110-109 lead with 2:03 to go.
Jacob Holland of Los Lunas had the go-ahead free throw for the South with 47.3 seconds left, for a 116-115 lead. His Tiger teammate, Chris Sanchez, added two free throws with 27.9 seconds left. A 3-point attempt by West Mesa’s Josh Platero circled the rim and missed as time expired.
NOTES: Carlsbad’s Joshua Miller participated in two All-Star events. He played for the South in tennis, which finished by noon Tuesday. He was required to check in by about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday for basketball. Highland’s Bryan Medina was chosen as an All-Star in football and basketball, but since those sports overlap, he couldn’t do both.
… UNM Lobo walk-on Adam Cumber of Sandia had seven points for the North.