No. 10 seed Valley and No. 9 La Cueva joined the top six seeds in tonight’s quarterfinals. (See today’s schedule on B4).
No. 9 LA CUEVA 80, No. 8 RIO RANCHO 77: At Atrisco Heritage, the Bears (5-3) — playing for the first time in nearly three weeks — led 50-28 early in the third quarter.
Then the bottom almost completely fell out on La Cueva.
The Rams (6-7), playing without suspended head coach Wally Salata, staged a furious comeback — sparked by junior guard David Patterson, who scored all 26 of his points in the second half — and shaved that deficit to 70-69 with 2:43 remaining.
Then La Cueva sophomore Derek Aeilts — who moved in from Kansas City along with his older brother Tyler during the offseason — buried back-to-back 3-pointers from the top of the key to stop Rio Rancho’s momentum and help the Bears squeak into today’s quarterfinals. La Cueva will be at No. 1 seed Atrisco Heritage at 7:15 tonight.
“They started coming back,” Derek Aeilts said, “and I wanted to give our team a boost. Something needed to happen, because they were kind of on a run.”
The Rams had a late 3-point attempt that just missed.
Lawrence Calais led the Bears with 26 points. Tyler Aeilts added 24 more.
“We just got sloppy with the basketball,” La Cueva coach Frank Castillo said after career win No. 693. “And they got physical on us.”
Rio Rancho shot 18 free throws in the fourth quarter. Forward Keshawn Banks had 16 points for Rio Rancho.
— James Yodice
No. 10 VALLEY 56, No. 7 MANZANo 54: At Valley, the Vikings (6-4) nearly blew all of a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, and the Monarchs (5-3) even had the ball in their hands with 16 seconds to go to set up a final shot.
But that shot never materialized, as Manzano ran out of time.
That late comeback by the Monarchs, in which Valley, even with its veteran and senior-laded backcourt, struggled to take care of the basketball, had Vikings coach Joe Coleman in a slightly sour mood afterward.
“Manzano, to their credit, played really hard,” Coleman said. “But we have a veteran group that played with a total lack of a sense of urgency (in the fourth quarter). And that’s disheartening.”
Valley led most of the way, led by senior guard Segun Oyeku, who finished with a team-best 21 points. He had 12 in the first quarter, which ended with Manzano trailing 16-15. A 7-0 run in the second quarter extended the Vikings to a 25-17 lead.
Oyeku and his backcourt running mate, point guard Anthony Chavez, keyed a 14-2 run that wrapped around the third quarter and into the fourth quarter as Valley accumulated a 49-34 lead.
That’s when Manzano, led by guard Dakota Powell who finished with 19 points, began its steady climb back.
“We had five seniors on the floor, and we can’t allow a team to pressure us like that and turn the ball over,” said Oyeku. “We have to have some more mental focus, and we have to be stronger with the ball.”
Manzano, which has lost three straight, was without leading scorer Eric Sonnenberg (illness).
— James Yodice
No. 1 ATRISCO HERITAGE 82, No. 16 HIGHLAND 32: At Atrisco Heritage, forward Jordan Arroyo scored 14 of his 20 points in the first half, and Joziah Ramos buried five 3-pointers as the Jaguars (8-1) throttled the Hornets (0-8).
No. 2 CLEVELAND 74, No. 15 DEL NORTE 47: At Valley, the Storm (10-3) couldn’t shake free of the Knights (2-8) until the second half. Eight Cleveland players scored in the pivotal third quarter, and 11 scored in the game.
Tre Watson’s 12 points led the Storm, which faces Valley at 7:15 tonight in the quarterfinals.
No. 3 AHS 64, No. 14 CIBOLA 44: At Volcano Vista, guard Randy Castillo had a game-high 26 points, and forward Marlon Cunningham added 22 for the Bulldogs (7-2), who face the host Hawks in tonight’s 7:15 quarterfinals.
No. 4 ELDORADO 55, No. 13 RIO GRANDE 40: At West Mesa, Kameron Valencia had a team-high 17 points for the Eagles (7-2), who get district rival Sandia in the quarterfinals today at West Mesa.
No. 5 SANDIA 59, No. 12 WEST MESA 49: At West Mesa, Dylan Terry scored 17 points to pace the Matadors (7-2) past the Mustangs (6-3).
No. 6 VOLCANO VISTA 62, No. 11 HOPE CHRISTIAN 50: At Volcano Vista, Jalontae Gray led the Hawks (7-3) with 17 points.