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Class 6A boys hoops: Atrisco Heritage tops Cleveland, wins state

It was an evening of dueling firsts for Albuquerque’s newest public high school.

On what was probably the greatest night of the school’s young history, the primary first was this: Atrisco Heritage Academy on Saturday night won its first boys state basketball championship, winning a tension-filled, 53-49 matchup with No. 5 Cleveland in the Class 6A final at Dreamstyle Arena.

The other first?

This was the first blue trophy for the school in any sport. The school started playing varsity basketball in 2008.

“It’s our first state title, and obviously, as athletic director, I’m excited,” Jags coach Adrian Ortega said. “But I gotta say, our program consists of kids who started with us and finished with us. There are no kids from Rio Grande, no kids from West Mesa. These kids have been with us since Day One, and that’s what makes it so special.”

With a vocal crowd of about 9,000 looking on, No. 3 seed Atrisco Heritage (26-3) didn’t trail until late in the third quarter, setting the stage for a frenzied finish that provided fan-pleasing theatrics and stellar play-making at both ends.

After Aamer Muhammad of Cleveland (22-10) hit a short jumper to tie the game at 37 with 5:04 to go, that’s when Atrisco Heritage and its veteran lineup with five returning starters went to work.

Each of the five contributed in the scoring column in those final five minutes.

There was a 6-0 run to make it 43-37, with Jordan Arroyo, Joziah Ramos and Enrique Bibian — surprisingly, Bibian proved to be the biggest impact player on the floor Saturday night — scoring points.

But Cleveland forced the Jags into a couple of quick turnovers (this was a theme all night), and those were converted into points, leaving AHA with a 43-41 lead with 2:01 remaining.

“(Volcano Vista coach) Greg Brown said it best,” Ortega said. “Their pressure is hard to simulate.”

Ramos, however, delivered a supremely clutch shot at the other end, burying a step-back, corner 3 in front of his bench at the 1:45 mark for a 46-41 Jaguars lead. Perhaps ominously for Atrisco Heritage, Cleveland had been down five in the last two rounds, both in the final 2 minutes, before coming back to win.

“I said, ‘Hey, we’ve been here twice already, this is our comfort zone,’ ” Storm coach Sean Jimenez said.

This time, Atrisco had the answers. Ortega’s son Diego hit four free throws in the final 32 seconds. DeMarcus Sutphen added three more.

The final two by Ortega followed a 3-pointer by Jayden Phillips for Cleveland, to bring the Storm within two at 51-49 with two seconds remaining.

Then Jimenez called a timeout he didn’t have, resulting in a technical foul.

“It feels amazing,” said Arroyo, a future preferred walk-on at UNM, who finished his career with six points, 11 rebounds and half a dozen blocked shots. “This is what we worked for all year. We kept working and working and working. A bunch of us have been playing together since seventh, eighth grade, and we have confidence in each other, and faith in each other.”

Atrisco Heritage had been in only two previous state finals: boys basketball in 2014, and boys soccer in 2015.

Ramos, who had scored over 20 points in the last two rounds, finished with 13 points Saturday. Bibian had a team-best, and often timely, 20 points. He was 8-of-12 from the floor and 4-of-8 from the arc.

“We knew they would come hard after Joziah and Jordan, so I had to step my game up,” Bibian said.

Atrisco Heritage led 21-11 in the first half. Cleveland eventually tied the game at 23 after scoring the first five points of the third quarter. Jimenez said the energy his team expended to get in front took a toll.

“We didn’t do a good job of knowing this was our last game of the season,” said Storm guard Jalen Munn, who had a game-best 21 points.


CLEVELAND (22-10): Jakob Medina 0-2 0-0 0, Justin Ainsworth 0-1 0-0 0, Andre Castillo 0-0 0-0 0, Jayden Phillips 5-11 1-1 12, Jalen Munn 7-14 6-8 21, Tre Watson 2-5 0-0 4, Isaiah Molina 2-2 0-0 4, Nakqi Smith 0-7 0-0 0, Evan Gonzales 0-0 0-0 0, Aamer Muhammad 4-14 0-0 8, Josh Tarry 0-0 0-0 0, Mario Lucero 0-0 0-0 0, Nathan Hasberry 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-56-FG 7-9-FT 49.

ATRISCO HERITAGE (26-3): Angel Ramirez 0-0 0-0 0, Enrique Bibian 8-12 0-0 20, Jason Weisgerber 0-0 0-0 0, Dominic Rivas 0-0 0-0 0, Joziah Ramos 4-12 4-5 13, DeMarcus Sutphen 0-3 3-4 3, Marquis Crawford 1-2 0-0 2, DJ Ornelas 0-0 0-0 0, Elijah Gaxiola 0-1 0-0 0, Diego Ortega 2-3 4-4 9, Zac Carmagnani 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan Arroyo 3-7 0-0 6, Malachi Crawford 0-0 0-0 0, Carlos Salazar 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-40-FG 11-13-FT 53.

Cleveland 4 14 15 16 — 49

Atrisco Heritage 12 11 9 21 –53

3-point FGs: C 2-9 (Phillips 1-1, Munn 1-2, Smith 0-3, Muhammad 0-3); AHA 6-14 (Bibian 4-8, Ramos 1-3, Ortega 1-2, Arroyo 0-1). Rebounds: C 29 (Munn 6, Watson 6); AHA 33 (Arroyo 11). Assists: C 13 (Phillips 4); AHA 8 (Ortega 3). FG Pct.: C, 22 first half, 48 second half, 36 game; AHA, 43 first half, 47 second half, 45 game. Steals: C, 9; AHA, 5. Blocks: C5, 9; AHA, 8. Turnovers: C, 8; AHA, 17. Total fouls: C 17; AHA 14. Technical Fouls: C, bench.