Jaguars, Hawks to face off for title - Albuquerque Journal

Jaguars, Hawks to face off for title

Volcano Vista’s Sean Alter, right, blocks a shot by Cleveland’s Cole Savage during Friday’s Metro Championships semifinal at West Mesa.
Roberto E. Rosales/Journal

District 1-5A had half of the final eight, three of the final four, and now, both finalists at the boys Albuquerque Metro Basketball Championships.

No. 1 seed Volcano Vista (12-0) and No. 3 Atrisco Heritage (11-1) won semifinal games Friday night at West Mesa, setting up their clash at 4 p.m. Saturday at West Mesa in the final.

No. 3 ATRISCO HERITAGE 55, No. 2 LA CUEVA 48: The Jaguars won for the 11th straight game after losing at home on opening night to the Bears.

Friday night, in an opposite of the first meeting, Atrisco Heritage shot the ball well. The Jaguars were 14 of 18 from the floor (77.8%) in the first two quarters, including 7 of 7 from beyond the arc. That included two crazy buzzer-beaters: a half-courter from Tony Pacheco to end the first quarter, and a banked-in 28-footer from Latavious Morris to end the first half. Plus, Atrisco Heritage only committed one turnover.

“The start was incredible,” Jaguars coach Steve Heredia said. “The first half pretty much carried us.”

Atrisco Heritage used a 10-0 run in the first half to lead 23-13, and the Jaguars also scored the final eight of the half, including back-to-back 3s from Morris for a 35-18 halftime lead. Morris scored a team-high 13 points before fouling out.

“It’s just us moving the ball around, always making the extra pass, knocking down our shots, having confidence,” said Morris, a quick, 5-foot-6 freshman.

The Bears (8-2) tried valiantly to make a game of it in the fourth quarter, with junior guard Exodus Ayers scoring 17 of his team-high 21 points in the final eight minutes. But La Cueva never got closer than six points, and that was in the final 10 seconds.

Atrisco Heritage figures to go into Saturday’s final against Volcano Vista not entirely healthy. The Jags’ 6-5 Colby Wade buried two early 3s, but came down on someone’s foot and turned his ankle badly in the first quarter, relegating him to the bench for the rest of the game and putting his status in doubt for Saturday. Also, guard Chris Parra was dealing with a bad back all night.

Heredia, asked for a thought on the matchup against the Hawks, could only chuckle.

“Did you watch them play?” he said. The Jaguars finished 20 of 32 (62.5%) from the field.

Cleveland’s Daniel Steverson, left, puts up a shot over Volcano Vista’s Jaden Malone during Friday night’s Metro Championships semifinal.
Roberto E. Rosales/Journal

No. 1 VOLCANO VISTA 76, No. 4 CLEVELAND 56: Indeed, the first semifinal was devoid of any drama. The Hawks had a 14-0 run in the first three minutes of the game, with senior guards Ja’Kwon Hill and Kaden Valdez combining for 12 of those 14 points. Cleveland turned the ball over six times during that pivotal stretch.

“During pregame, we made a big emphasis on starting early,” said Hill. “We just really wanted to come out and set a tone.”

Cleveland (10-4) hung around for a while and trailed 28-20 midway through the second quarter. But Volcano Vista scored 10 of the final 12 points of the half, led 38-22 at halftime, and that lead never fell below 14 points the rest of the way.

Hill led all scorers with 29 points. Valdez added 15, and this Hawks backcourt has been outstanding as Volcano Vista has opened the season with a dozen straight victories.

“Those are our two guys,” Hawks coach Greg Brown said. “They’re pretty difficult to stop, and when they’re going and they’re playing well, it just makes it easier for everybody else.”

Volcano Vista also shot extremely well, finishing 27 of 48 (56.3%) from the field.

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