Three of Rio Rancho’s four teams head to The Pit for quarterfinal action this week

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Three of the city’s four varsity basketball teams won first-round games and will head to Dreamstyle Arena—The Pit to play Class 5A quarterfinal games this week:

Here’s the schedule:

Tuesday, 1:15 p.m.:  Rio Rancho girls vs. Hobbs.

Wednesday, 1:15 p.m.: Cleveland boys vs. Onate.

Wednesday, 8:15 p.m.: Rio Rancho boys vs. Atrisco Heritage Academy.

 

GIRLS FIRST-ROUND GAMES

Rio Rancho 48, La Cueva 44: The No. 9 Rams (18-11) got 15 points from Julia Chavez; Laura Gutierrez and Kelsie Hawkins added 13 apiece as they won at La Cueva High School Friday evening.

“I’m really proud of our kids. We had a solid game plan,” coach Scott Peterson said. “We executed it. We were able to slow them up.

“We knew they would make some 3s (eight by game’s end, to four for the Rams),” he said. “We told ourselves, ‘We got live with the result,’ and we played a helluva game — our seniors are awesome.”

It’ll be the first game in The Pit for the RRHS girls program since a quarterfinal loss there to Eldorado in March 2008.

 

Farmington 63, Cleveland 55: In Farmington, the No. 7 Scorpions (22-8) withstood a late rally by the Storm (19-11) and moved into the quarterfinals against their Four Corners foe, Piedra Vista.

Farmington opened the game on an 18-6 run with some good looks attacking on the fast break.

Cleveland made things interesting in the second half getting some key stops near half-court.

Farmington stayed the course and put the game away with a few breakaway layups.

FHS’s Kiiyani Anitielu scored 27 points; Skyla Lillard led the Storm with 20 points.

(Thanks to Matt Hollinshead, Farmington Daily Times)

 

BOYS FIRST-ROUND GAMES

Cleveland 77, La Cueva 59: The seventh-seeded Storm never trailed while beating the Bears for the eighth time in a row – and for the third time in four years in first-round games, all played at Cleveland.

Senior Aamer Muhammad hit three of his six 3-pointers in the first half – he didn’t miss from behind the arc – as the Storm (25-6) built a 1-point lead, 32-22, by halftime.

Although the No. 10 Bears (18-11) got as close as six in the third quarter, when Derek Aielts scored 13 points, the deficit was 15 heading into the fourth quarter, and the Storm were never threatened.

Aielts led the Bears with 26 points; no other starter had more than 7.

Muhammad finished with 22, Jalen Munn had 16 and Tre Watson added 13 for Cleveland, heading for a game in The Pit for the sixth year in a row.

“Just coming out, playing like it’s my last game of the season – it was my last home game of the season – and I just had to come out and play. At the defensive end, I had a pretty good player to lock up tonight and I think I did a pretty good job on him,” Muhammad said, after leading the Storm in scoring for the fifth game in a row. “That was the main focus, D to O: Defense to offense.”

Jimenez, now 5-0 with the Storm in games vs. the Bears, said, “These guys expect to win every time they get on the court.

“We want our offense to be led by our defense, and these guys got after it tonight,” he said.

 

Rio Rancho 94, Gadsden 73: The third-seeded Rams shook off an early 8-2 deficit and used a 30-point second quarter outburst to turn what had been a 20-15 Panthers (16-10) lead into a 45-39 Rams edge.

“They jumped on us … I had to call a timeout,” RRHS coach Wally Salata said. “Kobe Barrientos … had three 3s in that first quarter. We knew they could shoot the ball.”

By game’s end Barrientos had 35 points, but only one other Panther, Diego Hernandez, with 16, was also in double figures.

No. 14 Gadsden never recovered in the second half, as the Rams steadily built their lead to a commanding 23 late in the third quarter, which ended with Rio Rancho up 70-47.

“That’s everybody’s goal at the beginning of the year, to get to The Pit,” Salata said. “We haven’t been there in three years.”

The victory was Salata’s 150th as head coach of the Rams.

Of course, that’s the year (2016) they went as the 11 seed and beat Carlsbad in the championship game.

David Patterson led the Rams (20-8) with a well-balanced 28 points – 13 in the first half, 15 in the second. Isaiah Chavez and Gallegos had 14 apiece, and Owen Olney joined them in double figures with 10. (Even his brother, Royce Olney, a senior who’d been out all season after ACL surgery, got into the game late, but couldn’t connect on either of his 3-point attempts.)

The Rams won two of their three meetings with their quarterfinal opponent, Atrisco Heritage Academy.

The RRHS girls team was the first of three City of Vision squads to advance to the state quarterfinals. They’re seen here rejoicing with their coach, Scott Peterson, after beating La Cueva Friday evening.

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