Playing the Volcano Vista boys basketball at full strength requires major heavy lifting as it is. And Atrisco Heritage didn’t have that luxury.
Down two starters, the third-seeded Jaguars (11-2) fought as best they could, but being short-handed left them in no position to threaten the undefeated Hawks (13-0) as No. 1 seed Volcano Vista led for all but 52 seconds in a 78-51 victory Saturday afternoon in the Albuquerque Metro Championships final at West Mesa.
“We understood that Atrisco was not at full strength, and we know how they’re gonna be when they’re at full strength,” Hawks coach Greg Brown said of his District 1-5A rival.
Senior guard Ja’Kwon Hill capped off a magnificent weekend for Volcano Vista, scoring 28 points. He was 6 of 8 from beyond the arc. On Friday, in a semifinal win over Cleveland, Hill had 29 points. He was a combined 10 of 14 in 3-point shooting in the two wins. He shot it a bit like his head coach used to in his heyday at Albuquerque Academy.
“I think I shoot it a little better than him now,” Hill said, smiling.
“It just really started in the offseason,” Hill said of his shooting prowess. “Coach Brown made us shoot hundreds, thousands of shots.”
Kaden Valdez drained back-to-back 3s to end the first half, giving Volcano Vista a 39-26 halftime cushion. The second half proved to be a mere coronation. Valdez and Hill each made a 3 in a 10-0 run to open the third quarter.
The Hawks shot 29 of 52 (55.8%) from the field, the second straight game they were above that threshold.
“We’re pretty efficient,” said Valdez, who had 14 points and was 4 of 5 from the arc. The Hawks made a dozen 3s and were 12 of 25 (48%) from long range. “We’re always getting open looks.”
Big man Colby Wade (ankle) dressed but didn’t play for Atrisco Heritage. Without him, Volcano Vista bigs Kenyon Aguino — a 6-foot-5 freshman who scored 16 points — and 6-8 junior Sean Alter, who had 10 points, feasted.
“We were hoping we’d get to play Colby tonight,” said Alter. “He’s a good matchup for me and Kenyon.”
AHA coach Steve Heredia insisted injuries didn’t factor into the final score as his team’s 11-game win streak was halted.
“We didn’t rebound, we didn’t shoot the ball well,” he said. “Volcano played better than we did, but it’s not who was there and who wasn’t.”
Jags freshman guard Latavious Morris led Atrisco Heritage with 19 points. One of Atrisco’s top guards, Chris Parra, didn’t suit out at all. He’s dealing with a back injury, and Heredia couldn’t say how long he’ll be out of the lineup.