Prep hoops: Wednesday night at Metro Championships devoid of upsets - Albuquerque Journal

Prep hoops: Wednesday night at Metro Championships devoid of upsets

Sandia’s Sydney Benally, left, goes for a layup as she drives through the Highland defense and Highland’s Zoriah Jackson (15) goes for the block during Wednesday night’s game at the Highland gym. (MIKE SANDOVAL/For the Journal)

The semifinals of the Albuquerque Metro Basketball Championships is pure chalk as all of the higher seeds won quarterfinal games Wednesday night.

The boys semifinals on Friday at West Mesa will feature No. 1 Volcano Vista (11-0) against No. 4 Cleveland (10-3) at 5:30 p.m., followed by No. 2 La Cueva (8-1) and No. 3 Atrisco Heritage (10-1) at 7:15 p.m.

The girls semis at Volcano Vista, also Friday, have the top-seeded Hawks (9-0) against Cleveland (11-3) at 5:30, with No. 2 La Cueva (6-3) and No. 3 Sandia (9-1) set to start at 7:15 p.m.

BOYS: At Atrisco Heritage, the unbeaten Hawks trailed No. 8 Rio Rancho 33-32 at halftime, but the Hawks came out strong in the third quarter and eventually overcame the Rams (7-5) in a 73-57 victory, thus ending Rio Rancho’s five-game winning streak.

“Our guys just hung in there,” Volcano Vista coach Greg Brown said. “And we started hitting shots.”

Senior guard Ja’Kwon Hill had 19 points to lead the Hawks. Kaden Valdez added 18 points, Jaden Malone 10 assists, and freshman Kenyon Aguino had 12 points and eight rebounds.

Volcano Vista beat Cleveland on Dec. 11 in the final of the Storm’s tournament, 81-70.

Cleveland earned a rematch by beating No. 5 Highland 76-68 in the quarterfinals at Cibola. Guard Daniel Steverson had 16 of his team-best 25 points in the first half for Cleveland, which led comfortably throughout. Now it gets another shot at its District 1-5A rival on Friday.

“I think we’ll make a better game of it the second time around,” Storm coach Sean Jimenez said.

Jose Murillo had 29 points, Alexis Dominguez 25 for Highland.

La Cueva-Atrisco Heritage is also a rematch; the Bears won at Atrisco on opening night, 57-43.

“In the history of our school, we’ve never won the metro tournament, and we’ve challenged them to accomplish something and see if they can make some school history,” Atrisco Heritage interim coach Steve Heredia said.

At Sandia, the Jags dominated No. 11 seed Del Norte in a 71-48 quarterfinal victory. Atrisco Heritage led by 21 points after the first quarter, with Chris Parra and Tony Pacheco combining for 12 early points. Marquise Renfro led the Jags with 18 points.

At Albuquerque High, the Bears rolled past No. 10 West Mesa, 71-46.

GIRLS: Perhaps the best game of the night was at Highland, where the Matadors, trailing 46-42 with six minutes to go, scored the game’s next nine points and eventually knocked off the sixth-seeded Hornets, 54-51. Freshman Hope Giddings’ layup with 4:16 to go put Sandia ahead for good at 47-46.

Another ninth grader, Sydney Benally, had a team-high 18 points for the Matadors, who will be playing rival La Cueva for the first time this season on Friday.

“Regardless of who’s coaching, it usually turns into girl against girl, both teams play man, and the rivalry thing kicks in and it turns into a tough game … usually the team that wants it more wins it,” Sandia coach Lee Kettig said.

Mariah Maes added 15 points and Giddings 14 for the Matadors.

At La Cueva, the Bears downed No. 7 Eldorado 45-35 as Nina Romero led the way with 15 points, the result of five 3s. A big second quarter paved the way.

Volcano Vista routed No. 8 Rio Rancho, 62-31 at Manzano. Taejhuan Hill had 15 points to pace the Hawks, while freshman Mila Espinoza added a dozen points. UNM signees, guards Jaelyn Bates and Natalia Chavez, scored 10 apiece.

At Del Norte, Cleveland outlasted No. 5 Albuquerque High, 45-40. The Storm had the comeback of the night, as it trailed by 12 points entering the fourth quarter.

“We just kicked it in, started pressing, started attacking,” Cleveland coach Susan Kubala said. Her team also made 9 of 11 from the free-throw line in the final eight minutes.

Freshman Aubrey Jaramillo had four 3s and 17 points for the Storm.


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