The Eldorado Eagles knew a District 2-6A boys basketball title wouldn’t come without some drama.
Visiting La Cueva delivered some, battling its way out of a 10-point hole and grabbing a fourth-quarter lead Tuesday night at Eldorado. But the Eagles were up to the challenge.
Kameron Valencia scored 23 points to lead four Eagles in double figures as No. 2-ranked Eldorado wrapped up the regular-season district crown with a 67-57 victory in front of a raucous home crowd. Jaylen Domina-Lovato chipped in 15 points for Eldorado (21-2, 9-0), which won its 16th straight.
“After we fell behind, our guys showed some guts,” Eldorado coach Roy Sanchez said. “La Cueva is really good. They have shooters everywhere and they’re rebounding pretty well now. We knew we we’d get pushed tonight. I’m glad we pushed back.”
Senior guard Tyler Aeilts had a monster outing for the Bears (15-8, 6-3), scoring a game-high 24 points and fueling his team’s comeback in the second and third quarters. Aeilts had 20 points in those two quarters alone.
“He can really play,” Sanchez said. “At one point I called timeout and said, ‘Guys, you think maybe we ought to guard him?'”
Eldorado led 23-20 after both teams struggled to hit shots in the first half. The Eagles continued to hold a narrow lead until Zach Garcia’s driving layup tied the score at 40 late in the third quarter.
Aeilts gave the Bears their first lead, 44-42, early in the fourth quarter but after an exchange of baskets, Eldorado regained control. Tyler Quintana hit a go-ahead 3-pointer to spark a 10-0 run that put the Eagles up 54-46 with 5:02 left.
La Cueva got as close as 55-50 in the closing minutes, but Valencia and Tyler Rodgers scored inside to help Eldorado seal the win.
Rodgers finished with 12 points, and Mike Mounho added 10. Isaiah Ortega scored 11 points, and Lawrence Calais had 10 for the Bears.
— Ken Sickenger
DISTRICT 4-6A: Like Eldorado, Atrisco Heritage’s boys clinched a regular-season title Tuesday night. The Jaguars (21-2, 9-0) held off visiting Rio Grande 55-50, with sophomore guard Joziah Ramos scoring a team-best 26 points.
DISTRICT 5-5A: This race will go down to the end, as both first-place Los Lunas (21-4, 6-1) and second-place Belen (18-7, 5-2) posted wins Tuesday night — against Grants and St. Pius, respectively. The Tigers, who stifled the Pirates in a 35-27 win, will clinch the regular-season title if they win Friday night on the road at Valencia. The Eagles downed St. Pius 52-44 on Tuesday behind 16 points from Garrett Gallegos.
DISTRICT 4-4A: Hope Christian also clinched a regular-season crown, going on the road to beat Ruidoso 81-66. Junior guard Johnny Nitafan had eight 3-pointers and 28 points total for the Huskies (17-7, 7-0).
DISTRICT 5-5A: Belen’s 43-41 upset win Tuesday night over St. Pius, combined with Los Lunas’ easy victory over Grants, gave the Tigers the regular-season championship in that league.