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Eldorado’s boys, girls halfway home to unlikely District 2-5A title

Jerzie Jones of La Cueva, center, passes to a teammate as Eldorado’s Hayley Valencia (11) and Ella Dion, right, are also in on the play. The visiting Eagles won, 60-52. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

Two down, two to go.

Eldorado’s bid to become an unlikely District 2-5A champion in both boys and girls basketball remained very much alive on Thursday night, as the Eagles swept La Cueva.

At La Cueva, the Eldorado girls won 60-52, while at Eldorado, the Eagles posted a 69-64 victory.

On Friday night, there is a doubleheader at Eldorado, with the Eagles and La Cueva’s girls having a rematch at 5:30 p.m., and Sandia’s boys following against Eldorado at 7 p.m. Fans are scheduled to return.

Eldorado, with two more wins (boys or girls), clinches the 2-5A championship.

“That’s what we told them,” Eldorado first-year girls coach Leroy Barela said. “The best thing about what’s going on right now is, we don’t need anybody to beat anybody.”

Eldorado’s boys and girls on Wednesday returned to the floor after two-plus weeks without a game, with wins over West Mesa.

The girls (5-1 overall and in 2-5A) rode a huge 18-0 wraparound run to overtake La Cueva. That run occupied the final 4:46 of the first half and the first 40 seconds of the third quarter. They turned a 21-17 deficit into a commanding 35-21 lead.

La Cueva got within four (41-37) by the end of the third quarter, but no closer.

La Cueva (7-2 overall and in 2-5A) dropped into second behind Eldorado; the Bears, with a win Friday, still clinch first place in 2-5A. The Eagles must win Friday and beat Sandia (5-3) on Saturday.

Senior guard Hayley Valencia and senior post Jaylen Jefferson each had 16 points in Eldorado’s win. Valencia played her first two seasons at Hope Christian before transferring to Eldorado. She had to sit out all of the 2019-20 season.

“(Eldorado’s shutdown) was tough, I’m not gonna lie,” Valencia said. “But our team has dealt with so much adversity, it was nothing new. We’re strong enough to get over that.”

Eldorado’s boys’ win over La Cueva moves Sandia (7-1) into first place in 2-5A, with the Eagles (4-1) next, then the Bears (7-2). Eldorado, after Sandia on Friday, plays La Cueva again Saturday afternoon.

ALSO THURSDAY: Sandia Prep’s boys locked up the District 5-3A title, as the Sundevils (7-0 in district) won on the road at second-place Bosque School (4-2), 56-34.

Friday night

• The District 1-5A boys race is between Cleveland (10-1 overall, 6-1 in 1-5A) and Atrisco Heritage (7-2, 6-1). The Storm is at Rio Rancho, the Jaguars play host to Volcano Vista. The Storm owns the point differential edge in a tiebreak.

• Santa Fe and Los Lunas’ boys both are 7-2 in District 5-5A, with the Demons at home to Rio Grande and the Tigers at home to Albuquerque High. If both win Friday, Santa Fe owns the tiebreaker.

• Los Lunas’ girls (9-0 in District 5-5A, 9-1 overall) visit Bulldog City to face second-place Albuquerque High (8-1, 8-1). The Tigers won the first meeting, 57-34.

• The 6-4A girls race has come down to a winner-takes-district showdown at Bernalillo between the Spartans and Hope Christian, who are tied (6-1) atop the standings.

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