The Cibola High School boys basketball community has suffered a loss with the death last weekend of Zach Mascareñas.
The 18-year-old Mascareñas, who played guard for the Cougars as a senior, was killed in a car accident last Sunday night. He graduated from Cibola earlier this year after transferring from Española Valley.
He was killed in an accident in Tijeras Canyon. According to an incident report, the car he was driving was moving westbound in the eastbound lane of Interstate 40. At about 9:45 p.m., Mascareñas’ BMW collided with a pickup truck about 3 miles east of Albuquerque near the Carnuel exit. The BMW caught fire, and Mascareñas was pronounced dead at the scene.
Mascareñas led the Cougars in scoring last season at 12.4 per game while also grabbing 4.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
“He was just a fearless kid, tough and fearless,” Rodriguez said. “He was a very creative basketball player; he had a lot of talent, a lot of instincts. And he was really good with our younger kids when he came in.”
Mascareñas was an outstanding student who was picking up college credits evoen while in high school. He was participating in an internship at Los Alamos National Laboratory this fall, Rodriguez said.
“He was never an arrogant kid,” said Bosque School boys basketball coach Clifton Davidson, who coached Mascareñas in club ball for a couple of years when the player was in the sixth and seventh grade. “He could score 30 points and just smile and enjoy it and everyone was patting him on his back. Or the next game, he could be guarding the best player on the other team and score two points. He didn’t care about being out front and center.”
Davidson’s son, Eli, and Mascareñas were about the same age, and the elder Davidson said Eli took his death extremely hard.
“He was inconsolable,” Clifton Davidson said.
Rodriguez described Mascareñas as a “good kid. He made friends right away.”
There was a vigil for Mascareñas on Thursday night. Services are pending, according to Cibola.
“Always respectful, always nice,” Davidson said. “He always had a little smile on his face.”
For Cibola, the death of Mascareñas was the second death of a former player in just a few weeks. Evan Hunt, from Cibola’s Class of 2017, died about a month ago in a motorcycle accident, Rodriguez said.
Glen Rosales from the Journal North office in Santa Fe contributed to this story.