The easy thing is to say, this was a battle of the Browns. Greg, the boys basketball coach at Volcano Vista, and Danny, the head boys coach at Sandia. And they’ve squared off plenty in their careers.
But it was the third Brown on the floor at Sandia that stole the thunder on Tuesday night.
In a back-and-forth showdown between two top-five teams in Class 5A, it was Hudson Brown, the son of Greg, and Danny’s nephew, who buried a crucial 3-pointer with 1:51 remaining, and that basket was the dagger that ultimately allowed the visiting Hawks, ranked No. 1 in the first coaches poll of the new season, to survive a threat from the No. 5-ranked Matadors.
To that end, Volcano Vista’s 73-67 victory had more than a tinge of a March vibe in this late-November meeting.
“He puts the time in, he deserves it,” Danny Brown said of his nephew, whose shot came with Volcano Vista nursing a 66-65 lead. “I can’t be mad at that.”
Defending state champion Volcano Vista has won its first two games this season. The Hawks were tested throughout in a game that had lengthy stretches when it was just hugely entertaining.
There were nine lead changes, including six in a fantastic third quarter.
But Volcano Vista scored the final six of that quarter, including a 3-pointer from Rian Gonzales and a three-point play by play by Sean Alter, to carry a 55-48 lead to the final eight minutes.
Volcano Vista was still up eight at 66-58 with 3½ minutes remaining when Sandia made one final push.
Andrew Hill hit a 3-pointer, and seconds later Dalen Moyer added one from long distance, the Matadors got within two at 66-64.
A free throw cut the deficit to one with 2:48 to go.
Then it was Brown, who banged home a 3 from in front of his bench, putting the Hawks in front 69-65, and Sandia ran out of comeback energy.
“I’m proud of our guys for finding a way,” Greg Brown said. “You could see that we had been through some battles, and we’ve learned through some past experiences being in big games. (But) Sandia is a team that is very hard for us to guard.”
Sophomore, 6-foot-7 forward Kenyon Aguino scored a game-high 29 points to lead Volcano Vista.
“Our teammates just came up big in those big moments,” said Aguino. His 6-foot-8 running mate, Sean Alter, added a dozen points and was a constant presence in the paint at both ends for the Hawks. “Everyone was just contributing.”
Moyer scored 13 of his team-best 26 points in the fourth quarter for Sandia. Andrew Hill added 24 points for the Matadors.
The teams combined for 17 3-pointers.
Brown’s was the last of the 17. He had nine points on three 3s, all in the second half.
“He’s a gym rat,” his father said. “This game meant a lot to him, and I was very proud of him.”