The fouls and free throws kept coming. Greg Brown just kept going deeper into his bench.
There were 51 fouls and 64 free throws in this opening-night boys basketball game between La Cueva and Volcano Vista, but the Hawks – even with one of their best players in street clothes – produced six players in double figures and pulled away in the second half to beat the visiting Bears 79-66 on Monday.
“I thought we did some really nice things offensive, but we played poorly on defense,” said Brown. “We got away with things because we have length and athleticism.”
Senior forward Jalontae Gray injured his shoulder in practice recently; he was in a shirt and tie Monday night. Gray said he’d return to the lineup soon. The Hawks’ next game is Thursday against Hope Christian.
But Volcano Vista didn’t miss him.
Near the end of the game, there was an inkling of why this team harbors such high hopes for this season. On one possession, 6-foot-7 Jacob Aragon, who led Volcano Vista with 15 points, threw down an alley-oop pass for a dunk. The next time down the floor, he stepped out and buried a 3-pointer.
The Hawks had multiple players with foul issues, but it was never remotely a factor.
Ben Manzano and Cesar Madrid each added 12 points, and it was Manzano who set an early tone with consecutive 3s in the first 90 seconds for Volcano Vista.
Jake Deatherage, Dion Battle and impressive freshman Ja’Kwon Hill all added 10 points.
The Hawks led by three, 37-34, at halftime. But they stretched the lead to 10 at 46-36 early in the first half as Aragon had a putback and Manzano buried another 3-pointer.
La Cueva briefly closed to six, 50-44, but the Hawks scored the next seven, capped by a 3 from Roberto Gallegos. The Bears never threatened again.
Isaiah Ortega had 15 points, Derek Aeilts 14 to lead La Cueva.
– James Yodice
HIGHLAND 66, CIBOLA 53: At Cibola, Josh Barraza had 22 points, including five 3s, as the Hornets beat the Cougars on opening night.
WEST MESA 51, RIO GRANDE 47: At West Mesa, junior guard Eloy Medina poured in a game-best 31 points as the Mustangs won their season opener.
LA CUEVA 71, VOLCANO VISTA 65: At Volcano Vista, junior guard Kaya Ingram scored 15 of her game-high 23 points in the first quarter, and the Bears held off a Hawks rally.
It wasn’t until late in the fourth quarter, on 3-pointers by Rylie Ottmann and Deja Sandoval, that La Cueva put Volcano Vista away
HIGHLAND 67, CIBOLA 40: At Cibola, sophomore guard Cailee Crawford had a career-high 38 points for the Hornets in a road victory on opening night over the shorthanded Cougars.