The predominant word Wednesday night to describe the Albuquerque Metro Basketball Championships?
The top four seeds in both genders all advanced to Friday’s semifinals after posting quarterfinal victories around the city on Wednesday.
For the boys, No. 1 Cleveland will play No. 4 Atrisco Heritage at 5:30 p.m., followed at 7:15 by No. 2 Volcano Vista and No. 3 Eldorado. Those games are at Rio Grande.
The girls’ semis are at Volcano Vista. No. 1 West Mesa and No. 4 Rio Rancho get it started at 5:30, with No. 2 La Cueva and No. 3 Volcano Vista starting at 7:15 p.m.
No. 4 ATRISCO HERITAGE 89, No. 5 RIO RANCHO 85: At Sandia, if this was a preview of the type of boys basketball fans are going to see in District 1-5A, hold onto your seats.
The first matchup of the season between 1-5A heavyweights delivered the goods, with junior guard Joziah Ramos scoring 35 points for the Jaguars (9-2), including 19 in the third quarter alone. Ramos scored the final 13 points for Atrisco Heritage in that quarter as the Jags took a 66-60 lead to the final eight minutes.
Atrisco Heritage protected its lead well in the fourth quarter, as Rio Rancho scored four cosmetic points in the final six seconds.
Rio Rancho had the same number of field goals as Atrisco Heritage (33) and the same number of free-throw attempts (22), but the Jags made 17 from the stripe and the Rams just 11. Atrisco Heritage’s offensive rebounding and scoring depth also factored into the victory.
While David Patterson had 35 points and Blaine Gallegos 30 for Rio Rancho (10-4), the Rams did not have a third scorer step up.
Atrisco Heritage, with its depth, did not suffer from that same crutch.
“We got a lot from our bench, and we got a lot from our role players,” Jaguars coach Adrian Ortega said.
Senior Marquis Crawford had 10 of his 15 points in the second half for Atrisco Heritage. He, plus Elijah Gaxiola (who had a big fourth quarter), Dominic Rivas and DeMarcus Sutphen all had important offensive contributions.
“What I’ve learned about this team is, that when Joziah isn’t in the game, our offense doesn’t stall,” Ortega said.
Said Crawford, “We know there are gonna be open looks. We all click together.”
— James Yodice
No. 3 ELDORADO 92, No. 6 HOPE CHRISTIAN 83: At Eldorado, senior guard Kameron Valencia scored 20 of his 24 points in the middle two quarters, and teammate Tyler Valencia poured in 33 points as the Eagles (8-2) beat the Huskies (5-6) and earned another shot at Volcano Vista.
The teams met last month at Volcano, with the Eagles nearly pulling out an amazing come-from-behind victory before falling 79-77 on Dec. 22.
Johnny Nitafan had a game-high 37 points for Hope Christian.
ALSO WEDNESDAY: Top-seeded Cleveland (13-1) beat No. 9 La Cueva 79-60 at Manzano, and second-seeded Volcano Vista (10-1) demolished No. 10 West Mesa 85-28 at Del Norte, as the Hawks had five players in double figures, led by Terrin Dickey’s season best of 17 points.
No. 1 WEST MESA 65, No. 8 CLEVELAND 50: At Rio Grande, Jaden Castellano had 16 points and six rebounds, plus four steals and four assists, to lead the top-ranked Mustangs (11-0) past the Storm (11-3).
Espi Varoz added 15 points and four rebounds, and Emily Burk had 13 points and 10 steals for West Mesa.
No. 2 LA CUEVA 64, No. 7 HIGHLAND 50: At La Cueva, the Bears (10-0) beat the Hornets (6-4) for the second time this season.
La Cueva’s pressure defense created problems for Highland from the start, Bears coach Robert Perea, and the Hornets’ top player, sophomore guard Cailee Crawford, fouled out having scored just 8 points, well below her average.
Bears junior guard Kaya Ingram had 18 points to lead La Cueva.
No. 3 VOLCANO VISTA 60, No. 6 CIBOLA 35: At Cibola, freshmen Jaelyn Bates and Natalia Chavez combined for 42 points as the Hawks (9-2) routed the Cougars (4-7).
Volcano Vista led 34-8 at halftime and held Cibola scoreless in the second quarter.
No. 4 RIO RANCHO 41, No. 5 SANDIA 40: At Albuquerque High, Laura Gutierrez buried a crucial 3-pointer with just under two minutes remaining to give the Rams (10-4) the lead for good, and Gutierrez also nailed two late free throws for a three-point margin.
Sandia had a late look at a potential game-tying 3-pointer but missed. The ball was put back allowing for the final margin.