Nobody in the girls portion of the Albuquerque Metro Basketball Championships started the tournament with more victories than Cleveland.
The Storm’s reward? A No. 8 seed.
Which means nobody started this tournament in a more aggravated mood than Cleveland.
“It is what it is,” Cleveland coach Susan Kubala said. “They seed however they want to seed. We have not gotten the respect these kids have earned.”
Cleveland, coming off a 51-40 victory Tuesday night in the first round against Eldorado (at Rio Grande), will have a chance tonight to change the narrative a bit when the Storm (11-2) faces the No. 1 team in the state, West Mesa (10-0), in the quarterfinals at 7:15 at Rio Grande.
“We are looking forward to that opportunity,” Kubala said.
Cleveland led from start to finish against the ninth-seeded Eagles (3-6). The Storm opened on an 8-1 run with baskets from four players, a theme throughout as Cleveland’s balance was on display.
Di’Andra Romero scored two straight times down the floor late in the first quarter for the Storm, which led 12-2.
That lead stretched to 23-10 late in the first half when Vanessa Rendon scored on a put-back for Cleveland, which dominated the boards against Eldorado in the first half.
That was not the case in the second half.
The Eagles were more assertive and physical in the third quarter – particularly Breanne Edgar, who scored 10 of Eldorado’s 12 third-quarter points, including three put-back baskets.
Eldorado trailed 28-25 starting the final eight minutes. The deficit was 33-29 when Cleveland’s Desiree Forster buried a 3-pointer from the wing, a crucial shot.
She also hit all four of her free throws in the final 38 seconds to help seal the win.
“We just adjusted, didn’t lose faith and figured it out,” Kubala said. “That’s one thing with this group. We just keep playing. (And) we just played good team basketball. They don’t care who gets the credit, as long as we succeed.”
Forster had 18 points to lead Cleveland. Edgar finished with 14 points for Eldorado.
– James Yodice
No. 1 WEST MESA 82, No. 16 RIO GRANDE 10: At Rio Grande, the Mustangs (10-0) buried 11 3-pointers as they routed the Ravens. Cece Barela led West Mesa with 15 points.
No. 2 LA CUEVA 59, No. 15 DEL NORTE 19: At La Cueva, Kaya Ingram paced the Bears with 21 points. La Cueva will face No. 7 Highland (which beat 10th-seeded Hope Christian 57-51) at 7:15 tonight in the quarterfinals at La Cueva.
No. 4 RIO RANCHO 54, No. 13 AHS 45: At Bulldog City, Laura Gutierrez and Julia Chavez combined for half of the points for the Rams (9-3) in their victory.
No. 5 SANDIA 60, No. 12 MANZANO 37: At Albuquerque High, Viane Cumber had a team-best 21 points as the Matadors (7-1) advanced to tonight’s quarterfinals, when they will face Rio Rancho at 7:15 p.m. at AHS.
ALSO: The last quarterfinal today, at Cibola at 7:15 p.m., pits No. 3 Volcano Vista, which routed Atrisco Heritage 58-31, against No. 6 Cibola, which blew a 12-point, fourth-quarter lead to No. 11 Valley but downed the Vikings 56-53 in overtime.