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Yodice: Presenting the 2020 All-Metro hoops teams

Coronavirus or no, there is still one piece of unfinished high school basketball business for the Journal.

Today we announce our All-Metro teams for the 2019-20 season. It is, as always, a list replete with gifted athletes. I often say, I wish I could watch our first team play our second team and let them have at it for one 20-minute session.

Also, you get my annual disclaimer: The Journal chooses only 10 players for each gender – five first-teamers, five second-teamers – from a pool that includes every classification. No third teams, no honorable mentions, no ties. Inclusion is tough. There were several outstanding players excluded. I sincerely hope they won’t take their absence here as a sign that I wasn’t a fan, and I hope they will believe me when I say that leaving them off created much angst.

The names of our second-team selections accompanies this column.

BOYS: Any list needs to begin with Atrisco Heritage senior guard Joziah Ramos, the newly minted 2019-20 New Mexico Gatorade Player of the Year who makes my top 10 for the third straight March, and second year in a row on the first team.

With the 5-foot-6 Ramos, his numbers (20 ppg) are great to look at, but it was so often the importance of the shot that measured his contributions to the Jaguars, particularly during their back-to-back championship years of 2018 and 2019. And did he ever face some hounding defenses this season. His 46-point showing in that epic comeback regular-season win over Cleveland was truly something to behold.

Last year’s first team was heavy on guards, but this year’s first unit includes two stellar big men in 6-5 Tre Watson of Cleveland and 6-6 Deraje Agbaosi from Eldorado.

Wearing the No. 24 most definitely brings some good fortune at Eldorado.

Kameron Valencia wore that number. He was one of my first-team choices in 2018 and 2019. The player who inherited that number, Agbaosi, a versatile and explosive senior power forward, should have an excellent college career. What hops!

Watson, a junior forward, is one of New Mexico’s elite dual-sport athletes and probably could be a fine collegian in football or basketball. He fashioned the best single quarter of basketball I witnessed all season, a humongous fourth period (22 points, with four straight three-point plays) in Santa Fe against Capital that allowed the Storm to come from way back to beat the Jaguars.

Albuquerque High guard Jude Tapia and Valley guard Seyi Oyeku round out the first team this season. Tapia scored over 1,100 points the last two seasons and will forever be remembered as one of the best guards to ever walk through Bulldog City. Oyeku was the quiet rock on a Valley team that just eight days ago cemented a second straight Class 4A state title.

GIRLS: Three of this season’s five first-team choices are back on the first team for the second straight year – Sandia’s Viane Cumber, La Cueva’s Kaya Ingram and Highland’s Cailee Crawford.

And four of the five first-team selections are underclassmen.

Crawford and Ingram – like Atrisco Heritage’s Ramos – are making their third consecutive appearance on the Journal’s All-Metro team. Cumber also would probably be a three-timer, except she missed her freshman season with an injury.

For me, Ingram was the metro’s best player, a steady senior guard surrounded by sophomores and perhaps Class 5A’s the best finisher around the basket.

Crawford and Cumber, both juniors and their district’s player of the year (as is Ingram), bring so much to the table. It’s scoring, rebounding, defense, leadership and that ever-present floor savvy that is unteachable.

From among Volcano Vista’s outstanding sophomore guard tandem, Natalia Chavez makes it to our first team. The 5-10 Chavez was hugely important as the Hawks advanced to the Class 5A final.

The last of the first-teamers is Los Lunas junior Natalie Jojola, a rock for coach Marty Zeller’s Tigers. It was her 14 first-half points in the state final against Kirtland Central that sparked Los Lunas to a third straight blue trophy.

Well, there they are, our best of the best. Let’s hope this is not the last All-Metro team for this school year.

Stay safe, everyone.

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