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Storm, Hawks to joust in final

Cleveland and Volcano Vista will play each other at least three times this season. Maybe as many as six times.

Round 1 comes tonight in the boys basketball final of the Albuquerque Metro Championships.

“We know them well, they know us well,” Hawks coach Greg Brown said. “It’s time to go back at it again. We’re excited to play them.”

In Friday night’s semifinals at Rio Grande, the top-seeded Storm overcame a 15-point second-half deficit to beat Atrisco Heritage, and the second-seeded Hawks – for the second time this season – downed Eldorado.

The District 1-5A rivals meet at 6 p.m. today at Volcano Vista.

No. 1 CLEVELAND 77, No. 4 ATRISCO HERITAGE 75: Sophomore forward Tre Watson’s three-point play with 32.8 seconds remaining was the game-winner for second-ranked Cleveland (14-1), which trailed for most of the night against the sixth-ranked Jaguars.

This game, in many ways, resembled the one game the Storm lost last week at Santa Fe. Cleveland was down double digits six minutes into the game and was still trailing by 15 in the middle of the third quarter. But its ferocious, full-court pressure defense created extreme havoc for Atrisco Heritage as the Storm closed the quarter on a 17-3 run after being down 56-41.

Still, the Jaguars (9-3) hung tough, and were up 71-65 with 1:40 to go. Jalen Munn’s 3-pointer later cut the deficit to one at 73-72 for Cleveland.

Trailing 75-74 after two Joziah Ramos free throws for Atrisco Heritage – the Jaguars were 28 of 29 from the line – Cleveland went down low to the 6-foot-5 Watson, who hit a short jumper off the glass while being fouled.

“After Santa Fe, we didn’t want that feeling again,” Watson said.

“Our energy was still there (late in the game),” Storm coach Sean Jimenez said. “I knew we’d come back. I didn’t know how much of a run we’d make, but I’m proud of our guys for fighting back.”

No. 2 VOLCANO VISTA 68, No. 3 ELDORADO 63: Junior guard Dion Battle scored 15 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter for the Hawks (11-1), and freshman Ja’Kwon Hill was outstanding with seven points in the final eight minutes and 17 overall as Volcano Vista advanced to the final.

After two of Volcano Vista’s best players, Jalontae Gray and Cesar Madrid, went to the bench with four fouls midway through the third quarter, Hill and Battle combined to score 18 straight points for the Hawks.

A layup by Hill with 4:42 to go put the Hawks in front for good at 52-52; Battle added a clutch 3-pointer with 3:28 left and a 58-54 edge.

Eldorado (8-3), meanwhile, saw its two best players, Kameron Valencia and point guard Tyler Quintana, who led the Eagles with 22 points, foul out late.