For the most part, the higher seeds advanced on the opening day of the Albuquerque Metro Basketball Championships.
West Mesa’s 10th-seeded boys and Del Norte’s 11th-seeded boys were the exceptions as the four-games-in-five-days event began Tuesday.
Quarterfinal games are 7:15 Wednesday night. (The schedule can be seen on page B4).
At Albuquerque High, No. 10 seed West Mesa (6-3) pulled away in the second half for a chippy 47-32 upset victory over No. 7 Valley (6-3).
There were six lead changes in a methodical first half, and the Mustangs led 15-14 at halftime. But after Mateo Hernandez of the Vikings buried a 3-pointer less than 30 seconds into the third quarter to tie the game at 17, Valley went on a marathon, 11-minute field-goal drought. And West Mesa increased its lead steadily.
Ty Barlow’s midrange jumper broke a tie for the Mustangs. Then Donavan Cruz hit a running jumper off the glass, which was followed by Andres Brito’s putback. Those were the first six points in a 12-0 run, and West Mesa carried a 31-19 lead into the fourth quarter.
Valley didn’t make another field goal until there were four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but by then, West Mesa was already in front 40-19.
“We were able to speed them up in the second half,” West Mesa coach Shonn Schroer said. “That was our plan. They want to play at a slow pace, and the first half was all their tempo. But I thought we started pressing a little bit and sped them up and got them out of their comfort zone.”
There were five technical fouls in this game, including a rare double technical called on Schroer and Valley coach EZ Panas. Those two were heatedly jawing at one another late in the contest; Panas was ejected, as that was his second technical of the game.
West Mesa avenged an opening-night loss to Valley.
Junior guard Brandon Lagunas led the Mustangs with 23 points.
“We’re coming along great,” Lagunas said. West Mesa faces No. 2 La Cueva in the quarterfinals at AHS. “We’re looking to make a big statement down the stretch and we’re gonna make a lot of noise this season.”
La Cueva beat the 15th-seeded Bulldogs 73-48 Tuesday night at AHS.
— James Yodice
At Atrisco Heritage, No. 1 seed Volcano Vista raced out to a 28-0 lead against Rio Grande in a 95-21 victory. Kaden Valdez had 16 points for the Hawks.
Volcano Vista gets District 1-5A rival Rio Rancho in the quarterfinals. The Rams, seeded eighth, beat No. 9 Eldorado 58-56 as Rio Rancho won its fifth consecutive game. The Rams pulled away in the third quarter, with eight players getting on the board in that quarter. Andrew Sanchez had five 3-pointers and 15 points for the Rams, Keagan Caton led Rio Rancho with 17 points.
At Cibola, No. 4 Cleveland and No. 5 Highland had victories. The Storm downed No. 13 Hope Christian 67-61 as Daniel Steverson had 22 points. For Highland, the Hornets got 27 points from big man Jose Murillo in a 50-43 victory over No. 12 Cibola.
In the bottom half of the bracket, No. 11 Del Norte, led by senior guard Judah Casaus, beat No. 6 Sandia 58-51 on the Matadors’ floor. Casaus hit a pair of crucial 3-pointers in the final two minutes, including the go-ahead 3. Del Norte faces No. 3 Atrisco Heritage next at Sandia after the Jaguars routed No. 14 Manzano 77-41.
The top eight seeds all won in the first round, led by No. 1 Volcano Vista, 76-6 winners at Manzano against Rio Grande. Natalia Chavez and Savannah McGuire each had 12 points for the Hawks. Volcano Vista will play No. 8 Rio Rancho, which defeated No. 9 Hope Christian at Manzano, 49-36.
At La Cueva, the second-seeded Bears blasted No. 15 Manzano 75-22. La Cueva plays No. 7 Eldorado in the quarterfinals. The Eagles defeated No. 10 Atrisco Heritage 54-36 as Bella Hines and Ella Dion combined for all 22 Eldorado points in the second quarter, a quarter in which the Eagles outscored the Jaguars 22-3.
No. 3 Sandia dominated No. 14 Cibola 73-43 at Highland. For the Matadors, guard Mariah Maes scored 11 of her team-best 21 points in a big first quarter. Sandia meets the sixth-seeded Hornets on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. Guard Deniece Ryan had 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in a 69-48 Hive win over No. 11 West Mesa.
At Del Norte, No. 4 Cleveland got past the 13th-seeded Knights 55-34. Cleveland used an 11-0 run midway through the first half to take control against the Knights, and added a 19-2 run to open the second half. Kindyll Sandoval had 14 points to lead the Storm.
Cleveland will face No. 5 Albuquerque High on Wednesday in the quarterfinals after the fifth-seeded Bulldogs outlasted No. 12 Valley 54-48, also at Del Norte. Leilani Love and Ariana Sanchez each scored 17 points for AHS.
Gary Herron and Matt Hollinshead of the Rio Rancho Observer contributed to this story.